EdSurge: What was the problem in your classroom or school that you were trying to solve when you implemented Kids Discover Online?
Darren: I wanted to integrate STEM into my social studies classroom, so that when kids are learning about history and the pioneers of science, technology, engineering, and math, they are learning about those subjects simultaneously and forming natural connections.
Describe how you used the product
I used the science and social studies curriculum from Kids Discover to make the connection between social studies and STEM throughout the school year. When students select a social studies topic online, they immediately see many articles related to that topic and additional science content. Recently I had my students reading about Ancient Rome. As they were reading online, they found information relating to the Romans’ building techniques. Following their research, we had an engaging discussion on their aqueducts and how and why they worked. My favorite moments are when students make these types of connections between social studies and science on their own. Another time where I engaged my students in both STEM and social studies was during a unit on ancient Egypt. One of my students noticed that the early Egyptian society started around the Nile River and made the connection to Mesopotamian society starting around the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. As a class, we were then able to make connections between the importance of rivers and the development of early civilizations. As a follow up activity, my students researched and discussed the science behind what rivers do that would be beneficial to a new civilization.
What worked and what didn’t?
Student choice is an important part of my teaching, so I appreciated how students could explore the curriculum on their own and bring their discoveries back to the whole group. I believe students have more buy-in to the lesson when they have choices about what they learn and how they provide evidence of their learning. Textbooks are “boring” according to many students; I would rather give them a choice of articles that are fairly short and concise. It helps that the articles are also leveled based on ability as well as visually appealing, with photos, maps, or illustrations.