Appendix 12 RYD Choosing STEM Activities

Choosing STEM Activities

The internet is full of "STEM Activities," however not all of them are created equal. When choosing a STEM activity, it is important to ask yourself, to what extent does the activity:

  • Work with your environment? You should ensure that you have space, materials, time, and background knowledge required for the activity. It is often helpful to do a practice run for your activity.
  • Allow for the participation of all youth? Program providers have the opportunity to unlock the scientist in all youth by identifying and fostering each of their strengths while also attending to their needs.
  • Allows for meaningful engagement with STEM and helps you meet a specific objective? Your activity should be more than just fun. It should also call out specific STEM content and skills.
  • Contain time for reflection and inquiry? When designing and testing solutions, youth may "fail" to solve the problem. That's okay! They are expected to learn from what went wrong and try again. Students should also learn how to question why things went wrong and discover solutions.
  • Allow for hands-on, group collaboration? In STEM lessons, the path to learning is open-ended and decisions about solutions are youth generated.
  • Relate to a STEM career/focus on a real-world problem? Youth should address real, social, economic, and environmental problems and seek solutions.
  • Connect to the everyday lives of youth/principles that youth engage with? Youth must be interested in and understand the practical application of what they are learning. It is important that we purposefully bridge what youth find exciting outside of their school/program to what they're learning in their school/program.
  • Help youth to build relationships? Great STEM activities help youth learn how to work in teams and also help to build relationships with their instructor.
    Jolley, A. (2014). Six characteristics of a great STEM lesson. Education Week. Retrieved from; the PEAR Institute: Partnerships in Education and Resilience. (n.d.). Dimensions of success. Retrieved from
    For more information on doing STEM with students with disabilities, check out the National Science Teaching Association: Science for Students with Disabilities.