Academic Culture

Connect STEM with Social Issues

Students engage deeply when STEM lessons connect with social issues

Students want to feel that the work they are doing is meaningful, and in some way connected to their lives. I motivate my students to invest in my class by using Social Issue Openings to tie the day’s content to current events, social justice issues, or health related chemistry. For example, during our unit on Gas Laws, we talk about how the same principles that help bread rise and make popcorn pop contribute to air pollution and global warming. I’ve found that focusing on issues in science regarding race, class, and gender – subjects my students care deeply about – adds meaning to the work, and frames learning and achieving as part of a larger movement. This year, the conversation has largely revolved around increasing female representation in the STEM career fields, and I hope to continue using real-world examples to drive investment in my class.

Strategy Resources (3)
Student Handout
 
 
The Gas Laws Unit Literacy Component highlights key vocabulary that will be seen during the unit, gets students thinking about how gas particles work, and discusses why the economic consequences of poor air quality. Students are also given statistics on the correlation of US counties with the worst particulate pollution and their demographics.
Student Handout
 
 
The Thermodynamics Unit Literacy Component discusses the energy trapped in chemical bonds of high fructose corn syrup, and how that may contribute to the obesity epidemic when consumed in large quantities. Students read the article at the beginning of the unit and answer questions geared towards helping students organize their thoughts and make the connection to the content. Later on in the unit, students will evaluate the energy trapped in Flamin' Hot Cheetos and assess how their nutritional content compares to those of peanuts and legumes.
Student Handout
 
 
The Gas Laws Unit Literacy Component highlights key vocabulary that will be seen during the unit, gets students thinking about how gas particles work, and discusses why the economic consequences of poor air quality. Students are also given statistics on the correlation of US counties with the worst particulate pollution and their demographics.
Student Handout
 
 
The Thermodynamics Unit Literacy Component discusses the energy trapped in chemical bonds of high fructose corn syrup, and how that may contribute to the obesity epidemic when consumed in large quantities. Students read the article at the beginning of the unit and answer questions geared towards helping students organize their thoughts and make the connection to the content. Later on in the unit, students will evaluate the energy trapped in Flamin' Hot Cheetos and assess how their nutritional content compares to those of peanuts and legumes.
Jeff Astor
Cindy and Bill Simon Technology Academy High School
Los Angeles, CA


 

About this strategy

Prep Time:
Moderate
Subject:
Science
Grade:
Eleventh grade
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