Bob Wallace, a now retired high school biology teacher in Crawfordville, Florida, was resolute in his goal that his students graduate with a full range of academic skill sets and technical knowledge that would prepare them for a successful future. In his over 30 years of teaching, he found that textbooks alone could rarely explain important concepts that kept his students engaged and employed a variety of strategies to explain difficult science concepts to his students. He was consistently on the lookout for options that would keep his students engaged. He stated, “Over the years, I’ve used a lot of different things. I have done drawings on boards, still magnets, and I’ve used beads – the beads go bouncing all over the place and you end up losing all of them.”
During a workshop offered by the Florida Center for Research in STEM (FCR-STEM), Wallace learned about MyStemKits curriculum and became intrigued by the collection of over 330 STEM lessons, aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), especially its focus on 3D printed materials. The lessons and Design Challenges work in tandem with a 3D printer to produce manipulatives that help students better understand STEM concepts. Each MyStemKits lesson includes 3D printable files, a teacher guide, an extensive lesson plan, and student assessments, activities, and handouts. Wallace appreciated its simple set up and felt that MyStemKits threw out the flat world of a textbook in favor of real-world manipulatives that students could interact with and analyze, leading to more insightful discussions.
After Wallace implemented the MyStemKits curriculum in his classroom, he noticed a substantial increase in student engagement. For example, using the Darwin’s Finches Kit, Wallace presented the beak models on a table and encouraged his students to identify the differences between them. When students completed the lesson, he led his students into a deeper discussion of key findings and concepts. Eventually, his students were designing their own experiments while he acted as observer. He commended the MyStemKits teacher material saying, “The lesson plans are very good. A teacher can print the lesson for students, put it in front of them, and the students can follow along on their own and learn.”
For the full case study on Mr. Wallace’s successful integration of MyStemKits lessons and 3D printed materials, click here.