Teaching STEAM for the First Time – How SAM Labs Ready-Made Lessons Made It Easy
Leslie Chu was new to STEM. Her teaching background is in music, and in truth, science and math weren’t her favorite subjects as a student. And yet, when her school, Harmony School of Innovation, a PreK-5 public charter school in Austin, Texas, needed a STEM teacher, she stepped up.
With the help of SAM Labs, Chu was able to teach STEM, STEAM, and coding to students with ease.
SAM Labs provides educator solutions that promote STEM learning through hands-on activities. Educators can choose a solution that fits their school, from a full suite of standards-aligned lessons in the STEAM course to 75 different coding challenges in Maker.
For Chu, the hands-on STEAM course gave her the lessons and confidence she needed to launch a STEM program at the PreK – 5th public charter school. Here are the benefits she noticed while using our STEAM curriculum:
Implementing SAM Labs STEAM Lessons: No lesson prep
Teachers spend an average of 44 minutes preparing for each lesson they teach. With prep time limited during school hours, teachers generally spend some of their free time creating plans. However, with SAM Labs, that’s not the case.
Chu says one of the best things about SAM Labs is its ready-made lessons that drastically reduce her workload. “I don’t have to devote my free time to class prep,” she noted in a recent interview with SAM Labs. “I love that all of the lesson packs are organized and ready to go. It’s so easy.”
This is especially helpful for Chu, who was new to the landscape. She wasn’t quite sure what a STEM curriculum should look like, so the lessons provided the direction she needed. “Without the lessons, I think I would have felt like I was thrown into the wild my first year,” she said with a chuckle.
Implementing SAM Labs STEAM Lessons: Self-paced learning
Student lessons are housed online, where Chu has the ability to assign lessons or give students the freedom to work through lessons at their own pace.
“I find that letting students work at their own pace is helpful and provides a more customized experience,” Chu said.
She went on to say that the kids are drawn to the activities because they’re hands-on, so they’re more likely to stick with a STEAM project.
“When it’s self-paced, I encourage them to work in small teams and troubleshoot problems on their own before involving me, which has really improved their problem-solving skills.”
Implementing SAM Labs STEAM Lessons: Building 21st-century skills
Problem solving isn’t the only skill that Chu sees an improvement in. As the students work together in small groups, they’re learning the value of teamwork and communication. They’re sharing ideas and working together to build something.
The SAM Labs lessons are organized, as are the activities, so students in Chu’s class are starting to carry those organizational skills over to other areas of study too, she noted.
Leslie’s Senior Education Consultant, Jennifer.
Implementing SAM Labs STEAM Lessons: Support for educators
Aside from the lesson plans, Chu applauds the SAM Labs customer support she receives. As a customer, she has a dedicated Senior Education Consultant with 5+ years of classroom experience—in Leslie’s case, it’s Jennifer—who is invested in her STEAM teaching success. “If I ever have a question, I send it in and I get a quick response,” she said.
SAM Labs works to provide multi-tiered support to educators, including complimentary onboarding professional development for all customers that guides teachers through the tools, curriculum, and lessons. This certification course is done on-site or online, and is customized to your school’s needs based on the solutions you’d like to implement.
With a year of STEM teaching under belt, Chu is looking forward to building on her skills.
“SAM labs is a very relatable program for kids and easy to teach for educators,” Chu said. “I’m looking forward to next year.”
If your school would like to join the 5,000+ schools that utilize SAM Labs to implement STEAM and coding in the classroom, review our solutions or consider booking a demo to see how this innovative curriculum can fit in your school.
Lisa McEwen is an award-winning writer and journalist with a passion for writing about education. She has written for large universities like Harvard and DeVry University, as well as dynamic educational startups like SAM Labs.