Ozobot: Overcoming Challenges in Bringing STEM to the Classroom
In collaboration with @Ozobot
Integrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education in classrooms has become increasingly important to prepare students for the future. We know that these skills are highly in demand and there will be an increase in the number of STEM-related jobs available by 2025. STEM learning is essential, however, educators often face several challenges when implementing STEM initiatives. It helps to first identify the challenges and brainstorm possible solutions to overcome them. There are many resources available for classroom use, however, Ozobot offers a variety of options that are great for any classroom and that do not require educators to have a level of expertise!
Theme 1: Lack of Teacher Confidence and Training
In my own experience prior to teaching a STEAM course, I did not see how I could bring STEM activities into the language classroom. This feeling is common among educators today. Many educators share that they do not know enough about STEM or even lack confidence in teaching STEM concepts in their classroom. There are ways for schools to help with this such as:
- Provide professional development programs that focus on enhancing STEM pedagogy and content knowledge.
- Leverage teacher talent and have time for experienced STEM educators to guide and assist their colleagues.
- Use online platforms such as Ozobot Classroom, which offers training materials, lesson plans, and interactive tutorials to build teacher confidence and expertise in STEM education.
Theme 2: There is not enough time or it does not fit in the curriculum (Time Challenges and Curriculum Constraints)
Time is always a factor for teachers when there are so many tasks that make up our day. Finding enough time to integrate STEM activities into their curriculum can be difficult. Class schedules do not provide enough time perhaps or there are specific guidelines and timelines to be met with the curriculum.
Incorporate cross-curricular integration, where STEM concepts are integrated into existing subjects rather than taught as standalone lessons. For example, using robotics to explore math concepts or engineering challenges within science topics.
Explore the versatile resources offered by Ozobot. It is quick to get started using the activities and challenges that come with each robot, and these can be easily integrated into different subject areas and grade levels, which saves time and promotes interdisciplinary learning.
Theme 3: Access to the Right Resources and Materials
One of the biggest areas of concern is that resources are limited in schools or a lack of funding makes it tough to decide which resource is the best and most versatile option. Accessibility is a significant challenge for teachers who want to implement STEM-focused activities in their classrooms. Questions that I get are often around the time involved to find resources and funding for bringing them into schools.
Some ways to work through this are by seeking grants to obtain STEM resources. Ozobot offers a free Grants & Funding tool that provides guidance on these topics.
Explore the resources from Ozobot which are affordable and provide everything that educators need to implement STEM in their classroom. The robots and lesson plans are designed to help educators to engage students in learning about coding and robotics and hopefully spark interest in a future career in coding. My students have enjoyed learning about coding and creating with Ozobot.
I definitely recommend exploring all of Ozobot’s resources. A great option is the Ozobot Classroom Kit, which offers everything all in one with curriculum-aligned resources suitable for various STEM activities.
Theme 4: Engaging Diverse Student Populations
We want all students to have opportunities to explore STEM but the reality is that not all students have access to the resources to explore STEM-related learning. Engaging students from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented groups in STEM, can be challenging due to varying interests, learning styles, and prior experiences.
Some ideas to explore are to incorporate culturally relevant STEM projects and examples that reflect the students’ backgrounds and experiences, promoting inclusivity and increasing engagement. Additionally, Ozobot offers MetaBot — a free AR experience hosted on the Evo App that allows students to virtually build and execute Blockly programs with Evo.
By bringing in project-based learning (PBL) and hands-on activities that provide opportunities for collaborative problem-solving, allowing students to contribute their unique perspectives and skills and also foster the development of SEL skills.
Theme 5: Integration of STEM Across Subjects
For some educators, the idea of STEM may not seem like something that can be brought into a class that does not fall under the “STEM” subjects. Finding ways to bring STEM concepts into classrooms can be challenging, especially for classes that are traditionally perceived as non-STEM related.
The best option to bring STEM into all classrooms is through cross-curricular collaboration. Not only is this beneficial for students, but it also encourages collaboration between teachers of different grade levels or content areas. They can work together to create interdisciplinary STEM projects that incorporate concepts from their courses and provide more meaningful, real-world learning experiences for students.
Project-based learning: Implement project-based learning approaches that encourage students to apply STEM knowledge and skills to real-world problems across different subjects.
Ozobot as a solution: Highlight Ozobot’s versatility in integrating robotics and coding across various subjects, fostering cross-curricular connections and enhancing student engagement.
Bringing STEM to every classroom can be a powerful and transformative learning experience for students which will equip them with the skills needed to be successful now and in the future. By asking educators what their concerns and challenges are, we can work together to find solutions. With the support of a comprehensive platform like Ozobot, educators can design dynamic and engaging learning environments that spark student curiosity for learning, build critical thinking skills, and foster interest in STEM fields.
Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s Next in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and Community Leader and served as president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was named as one of the 150 Women Thought Leaders to Follow for 2022 and one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.
She is the author of seven books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “ Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, “ True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” and her newest book “Things I Wish […] Knew” is available at bit.ly/thingsiwishedu.
When it comes to professional development for your school, Rachelle offers both in-person and virtual training on a variety of topics. Don’t miss the opportunity to schedule a session by contacting her at Rdene915@gmail.com.