STEM Resources K-12 Teachers Should Know About

By Rob Klindt

While science and mathematics have always been important core subjects at K-12 schools across the United States, technology and engineering classes have been relatively few.

That’s changing quickly as the nation steps up its investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to meet the demand for skilled workers who will be needed to keep the United States a global leader in technology and innovation.

To make that happen, $80 million is earmarked in President Barack Obama’s 2014 Stem Education budget to train 100,000 STEM teachers nationwide. Overall, the budget invests $3.1 billion into STEM education around the country.

An abundance of online resources await teachers who want to boost their STEM knowledge. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Science Teachers Association, are among the top sites, but many more offer quality STEM materials that teachers should know about.

Lesson Plans and Teacher Resources

Many websites offer free and low-cost STEM lesson plans and activities that also meet Common Core State Standards.

  • Google in Education. Classroom STEM lesson plans, educational apps, digital documents and multimedia reports are just a few of the resources for teachers on this popular website.  Free.
    Visit the site
  • Lesson Planet. This Web-based STEM curriculum site boasts more than 400,000 teacher-reviewed lesson plans, printable worksheets and videos for K-12 classrooms. Costs $4.99 per month after a 10-day free trial.
    Visit the site
  • Pinterest. A good selection of STEM lesson plans, activities and links shared and updated by Pinterest users make this site a good choice for teachers who want to beef up their classroom curriculum. Free.
    Visit the site
  • Siemens STEM Academy. This teacher-focused website is designed to help educators boost their knowledge of STEM education with webinars, downloadable lesson plans, multimedia presentations and professional development ideas. Free; registration required.
    Visit the site

Science and Technology Sites

Computer science, programming and coding are projected to be among the fastest-growing disciplines in many of today’s K-12 classrooms.

  • CodeAcademy. Schools are increasingly including coding instruction in their STEM curricula. Teachers can use the interactive templates on this website to help students learn to code using common languages like JavaScript, HTML/CSS, PHP and more. Free.
    Visit the site
  • This website focuses on inspiring students to learn the basics of computer science with drag-and-drop programming. Teachers can take advantage of the site’s large collection of Interactive tutorials, videos and worksheets, all designed for K-12 classroom use. Free; registration required.
    Visit the site
  • Scratch. Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, this online learning community includes interactive activities that teach elementary school students how to program their own interactive stories, games and animations.  Free; registration required.
    Visit the site
  • STEM works is one of the popular websites for teaching studetns about science, technology, engineering and mathematicsSTEM-Works. Among the topics covered on this site are robotics, medicine, astronomy, video game design and even crime scene investigation. Teachers can download K-12 lesson plans, activity guides and articles for students who are considering a career in STEM fields. Free.
    Visit the site

Engineering and Mathematics Sites

Here are two of the best websites educators can use to assist college-bound students who are planning to study engineering and mathematics.

  • Smile. This website’s name is an acronym for Science and Math Informal Learning Educators. It lets STEM teachers search, download and share hands-on science and math lesson plans and activities for K-12 students. Free; registration required.
    Visit the site
  • TAP. Short for Teaching Advanced Physics, this website is aimed at educators who teach students ages 16 to 19. It includes downloadable activity projects and lesson plans that focus on electricity, mechanics, astronomy and energy. Free.
    Visit the site

Because technology is playing an increasing role in the national and world economy, teachers need to make sure students are well-versed in STEM subjects that will prepare them to enter the 21st century workforce.