We think of STEM education taking place in science class, in the math classroom, in a computer lab. However, we use STEM concepts in all areas of our lives - why not bring STEM into Physical Education? By integrating STEM into different content areas, such as P.E., students are encouraged to build the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century and enthusiasm for the class will skyrocket!
We interviewed two of our Sphero Heroes Marcus and Wayne who are P.E. teachers in Australia. Below is a compilation of their best tips, advice, and activities.
How to Adopt STEM in Physical Education
Siloing of subjects:
Subjects are so often taught in blocks throughout the day without any connections between them. Students may not realize that the skills they are using in literacy are also needed in science. For students to truly have a well-rounded education, they need to see that what they are learning in one classroom translates to many other facets of their day. By bringing Sphero into P.E., our Heroes are doing just that. Students are not only able to focus on moving their bodies but are able to collect and analyze real data, use the engineering design process to problem-solve and deepen their understanding of concepts such as direction and distance. All of these are skills that students can put into practice in math, science, and clearly, P.E.!
“Teachers can engage students to achieve greater outcomes as we are connecting to different content areas.” - Marcus Panozzo, P.E. Teacher at Dallas Brooks Community Primary School, Dallas, Australia
Beyond mathematical and engineering concepts, by incorporating STEM into P.E., students are building so many transferable skills that they will use throughout their lives. Students are able to work in teams or small groups to design, test, and refine their games, which encourages them to communicate clearly with one another and build a collaborative environment. Additionally, they are problem-solving issues that may arise in their designs. By allowing student voice and choice in the classroom, students are able to unleash their creativity and natural curiosity.
“With a focus on student voice and choice, the students work in pairs or small groups, design their games, gather their materials, build their games, give them a test run, refine and then play.” - Wayne Schultz, P.E. & Sport Teacher, Roxburgh Park Primary School, Roxburgh Park, Australia
Bringing STEM into P.E. is a great way to take engagement to another level. Our Heroes have found that while almost all students tend to be excited to engage in STEM activities in the classroom, students who have had past experiences tend to be the most excited. By incorporating STEM into P.E., there is greater opportunity for students who are unable to participate traditionally to continue building confidence and competence toward Physical Literacy. If kids see a connection between coding and P.E., they are more likely to respond in a positive way to movement. Of course, this can go the opposite way as well, allowing students who don’t see themselves as scientists to find an entry point into STEM.
Tips from our Sphero Heroes:
Interested in bringing STEM into your gym? Marcus and Wayne have some great suggestions, from bringing your administration on board to managing diverse groups of students.
Tip 1: When approaching your school leaders, make sure that you highlight the fact that students are practicing transferable skills by applying them in a new environment. This means that by having STEM in P.E., you are supporting other disciplines.
Tip 2: Consider having roles for students as they work through their projects. Also, try to give opportunities for students to be the teachers - use their expertise!
Tip 3: Make sure you explain the “why” in your activities. Students are less likely to be resistant if they understand how the activities in P.E. relate to other areas of their lives.
Tip 4: With Sphero, it is easy to differentiate for multiple grade levels! Consider the draw or drive feature in the Sphero Play app for younger students, while using block coding in Sphero Edu for older kiddos.
There are so many great ideas that our Sphero Heroes have brought into their Physical Education classes! Try these suggestions to boost engagement with your activities:
- Target Games, with a connection to Lawn Bowls, Golf, or Bowling.
- Catching Games using the LED features on BOLT.
- Olympic-style events and sports in which Sphero competes in events.
- Use Sphero to investigate push and pull concepts.
- Striking and Fielding Games, with a connection to Cricket, Softball and Baseball with field placement strategies.
- Water Safety, where Sphero swims between the flags, performs rescues and creates patterns to move out of rips.
When it comes to STEM education, the possibilities are endless. It is time to take STEM education out of the science lab and into other areas of school, or even take it home. Whether you are looking to incorporate new technologies into your classroom, make connections between disciplines, boost student engagement, or get moving in the living room, Sphero is here to help.
Special thanks to Sphero Heroes Marcus and Wayne for taking the time to share their amazing classroom innovations.
Have your own great STEM ideas to share? Join the Sphero community forum to connect with us and fellow educators.