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How to Integrate Project-Based STEM Challenges into Your Teaching

What type of project-based STEM experiences do your students have access to this school year? STEM is more than just a buzzword. And if you are committed to infusing STEM and project-based learning into your classroom, I have an excellent resource for you! The annual 3M Young Scientist Challenge in partnership with Discovery Education for middle school students is officially in motion. I can’t wait to share the details.

As the nation’s premier middle school science competition, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge has officially kicked off for 2021. You and your students now have access to a variety of free resources and an opportunity to sign up and participate in the challenge until April 27th.

If you haven’t heard of this special challenge before, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge invites middle school students (fifth through eighth grade) to participate. In this blog post, I’ll share details about this opportunity alongside some of their no-cost resources for your classroom!

Project-Based STEM Challenges

When it comes to high-quality, free resources for teachers, I’m always on the hunt for new ones to share with readers. As part of the Competition, teachers can access a wide range of support materials. This includes roadmaps, storyboards, project timelines, and more to guide them through the challenge entry process. Are you totally new to project-based STEM learning experiences? Looking for extra support? These resources will certainly come in handy.

Learn more about the challenge here >>

What type of project-based STEM experience do your students have access to this school year? Learn about a special challenge for middle school students.

Within the resources for this challenge, teachers can find curated and customizable lesson plans for grades K-8. So if you’re working with elementary-school-aged students who might not be ready to participate in this challenge designed for middle school students, you’ll still have access to resources for this younger age group.

In addition to the resources specific to the challenge, there are also Young Scientist Lab materials. These materials can turn classrooms (virtual or in-person) into laboratories with resources you have at home. All of the content aligns with national science standards, and of course, you can tailor this content to remote learning, hybrid learning, or face-to-face experiences. 

3M Young Scientist Challenge 

As I mentioned at the top of this post, the annual 3M Young Scientist Challenge is now in full swing! Students can now compete for an exclusive mentorship with a 3M scientist, a $25,000 grand prize, and the chance to earn the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.” This competition asks middle school students to share an original idea that helps solve an everyday problem in their community. 

How do students participate in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge? Competition entries are accepted at from now until the April 27, 2021 deadline. After students identify a community problem, they can start to explore different solutions to an issue. Students then individually submit their solution to a community challenge in the form of a one to two-minute video. They’ll explain the science behind the solution they’ve come up with to address a problem in their community.

Regular readers of the blog know how much I love creative activities that ask students to share their learning. Your students should submit their finalized one to two-minute entry video as a YouTube link. 

STEM and Project-Based Learning

I love how this challenge is centered around solving a problem in a student’s community. This anchors the activity students participate in authentic situations as opposed to a simulation. They can pick topics close to their hearts and challenges that impact their lives personally and align to one of six entry topics— certainly project-based learning at its best.

What type of project-based STEM experience do your students have access to this school year? Learn about a special challenge for middle school students.

You can have students work through an entire design process to address issues in the community with a STEM-lens. The 3M Young Scientist Challenge supplements the 3M and Discovery Education program, Young Scientist Lab. So if you’ve heard of the Young Scientist Lab, there is a clear connection to this platform. The Young Scientist Lab provides no-cost, dynamic digital resources for students, teachers, and families in grades K-8. All of these resources can help students explore, transform, and innovate the world around them.

As part of the Young Scientist Lab program, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge celebrates students’ abilities to tackle real-world problems. By using STEM principles and collaborating with 3M scientist mentors, students can bring their ideas to life through a one-of-a-kind virtual summer mentorship. This opportunity is definitely something that makes the 3M Young Scientist Challenge stand out among other science competitions!

Ready to learn more? Head over to this special landing page to find more information on the 3M Young Scientist Challenge. I can’t wait to see what your students create! 

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Blog Author and EdTech Consultant Dr. Monica Burns

Monica Burns

Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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