Want to get your kids more involved in STEM without boring them to tears or pressuring them?
The vision of the walkSTEM® initiative is a world where every place is a STEM place, and every child is a STEM child. Giving your children the opportunity to design their own walkSTEM® experience around your home, neighborhood, or local park will help them discover how STEM is relevant to their everyday lives as they make meaningful connections between experiences.
Create Your Own walkSTEM® is a great way to engage your children with materials you can find around your home, in spaces they see every day!
Here are the 4 steps to creating your own unique walkSTEM® tour.
Create Your Own walkSTEM® Framework
Below are additional examples and details:
- Find several friends, family members, colleagues, or other enthusiastic supporters to begin brainstorming.
- Consider everything around you as a potential “stop” along the tour.
- Keep it simple. Start with a small number of stops to test it out, then add stops along the way, adding different themes to each tour.
- With each tour, always engage your participants to ask for suggestions on what other possible problems you could solve. You’ll be amazed how people see their environments in unique ways.
Keep in mind:
- The building block of your walkSTEM® experience is a walkSTEM® stop. Make sure to watch a few sample walkSTEM® videos on our YouTube channel for inspiration! We have a sampling in the CYOW toolkit that is a helpful resource.
- A “stop” is a specific location or object like a wall in your classroom, a tree in the yard, a swing, a ramp, artwork, etc. Each stop should be relatively permanent, if possible (i.e. avoid choosing a piece that may be moved in the future)
- Begin by identifying the space you want to utilize. It may help to consider your audience. The scope may include anything from a PreK/K classroom to an entire campus (you can always start small and grow the experience over time).
- As a general guideline, we try to include examples from the built and natural environment, as well as artworks and everyday objects. It’s important to have a diverse group with a variety of perspectives to help design walkSTEM® experiences that are fun and inclusive! We suggest a minimum of two people on a design team.
- For school or out-of-school groups, recruit a team you can easily manage based on your adult: student ratio requirements. Be sure to promote the activity or club to students with varied interests and skill sets!
- When you design your walkSTEM tour, consider the tools you want to utilize to answer your question at each stop. In most of our tours, we used minimal tools, such as a calculator or measuring tape. You may suggest using hands or feet to estimate distances. For example, our Really Big Numberstops on walkSTEM® Academy require participants to work together and strategize an efficient way to estimate the total number of small squares in a space. You could also use some high-tech tools as a point of interest.
- If you have a question you really like, but need to do some research to help answer it, that’s okay! For example, one walkSTEM® after school group really wanted to create a stop about an echo in a room in their building. They did some research on the science and mathematics of sound in order to form a question that made sense to a broader audience.
Consider the following options for your stops:
- An everyday object (such as a traffic signal, trash can, light post)
- A built environment (e.g. some aspect of a building design, climbing structure in a playground)
- A natural environment (e.g. plant, tree, bushes, stream)
- Artwork (e.g. sculpture, painting, glass art)
- Note: At least one stop must be focused on a mathematical concept. (For example, estimation and measurement, scale, ratio, statistics, geometry, relationships, etc.). All must highlight a STEM concept.
Sample themes that you may enjoy:Several of our walkSTEM stops on our walkSTEM Academy YouTube playlists have a few recurring themes. These were not planned, but when our team brainstormed at that site, these worked well for us. We are sharing those here in case you find them interesting and want to create walkSTEM stops with similar themes. We also can’t wait to have YOU share new questions that will get us excited about new themes!
Really Big Number: Using numbers and other strategies to figure out a really big number of something, such as the number of bricks, tiles or windows in a building. Or how many tiles are on the wall/floor. Watch this video and this one for inspiration.
Color: Artists create different color variations and patterns using different math-related techniques. E.g. How many different color variations or patterns are there? Watch this and this video for inspiration.
Trees: Take a look at a collection of trees to measure the girth, look at angles of branches or study leaf size and patterns. Watch this video and this one for inspiration.
Estimating: Consider height, volume, area and units involving everyday items like bathtubs, minivans, or building story height. (e.g. What is the volume of water in a lake or pond, and how many bathtubs is that equivalent to? How tall is this skyscraper?). Watch this video and this one for inspiration.
Relationships: Consider questions about whether two (2) characteristics go together or correlate (e.g. does the number of segments in a bamboo increase with circumference of the stalk?). Watch this video for inspiration.
Speed or slope: What’s the slope of a ramp and why do you think it was designed this way? Consider how slope of a ramp or slide affect speed of movement, or look for the steepest slide you can find. Watch this video we made on this theme.
Environmental science/sustainability: Consider how public places are designed for a particular use. Look closely at the design and consider environmental impact. What are the most common pollutants by the river and which ones are most likely to have impact on life in the ocean, based on density, etc?
Urban design/architecture: How are spaces designed for their function? How was intuitive wayfinding used to get you to where you needed to go? Watch this video we made on this theme.
Miscellaneous: Perhaps consider how an artist made you feel about a subject in a painting (if the answer involves mathematical concepts like scale or density). Or, “Why does the size of the tree appear to change depending on my position and distance from the tree?” Watch this video on symmetry in an artwork and this one on symmetry in turtles for more ideas! You can also check out this clip or this one about perspective and STEM in art.
Video Tips:ONE: ALWAYS film in landscape mode. Except for smartphones and some tablets, most screens are not vertical. People are accustomed to turning their phones sideways for a wider video view.
TWO: Use the exposure lock on your smartphone. The iPhone, for example, automatically focuses on the subject in your shot and adjusts the exposure. If you’re filming a video with a singular subject not moving quickly, the constant automatic adjustments can make the footage choppy. Use your AutoExposure/Auto Focus lock feature by tapping on the screen and holding it until AE/AF box appears. Once it does, the focus is locked, and you can adjust exposure by dragging your finger up or down. Tap it again to turn it off or choose a new locked point.
THREE: Put your phone in Airplane mode. This is to avoid getting unnecessary interruptions and sounds from notifications while you’re filming. You can do that in Settings, or by swiping up on your screen to bring up the Control Center and hitting the airplane symbol.
FOUR: Clean your camera lens. Wipe the lens with a cotton shirt or soft material before you film.
FIVE: If you have any kind of external mic you can use, do so. If not, do some testing and keep sound quality in mind. Good film is 50% sound.
Questions:Email us at info@talkSTEM.org.
Submission GuidelinesWe hope you enjoyed your experience and that you will share your walkSTEM tour with us. We are growing our community of walkSTEM explorers globally. We’d have great use for your playlist consisting of short 1-2 minute videos, animations, and/or photos. We will select all playlists that meet our criteria to share on our YouTube channel for everyone to enjoy and learnPlease use software that will help the video feel dynamic and personalized (such as Adobe Spark). We want your walkSTEM tour to be YOURS.
Click here to submit.