The Integrated STEM course fuses mathematical skill-building and computational thinking applied to real-world scientific problems where solutions are constructed by students and instructors working together. This course includes 80% hands-on teacher supervised lab activities and 20% skill-building instructional time. Throughout the course, students develop and use models, plan and conduct investigations and experiments, analyze and interpret the data collected, and construct explanations to demonstrate their understanding of the overarching ideas of Energy and Matter

The lab activities include explicit information on safety and regular warnings of the dangers of electric shock. Students undertake personally-relevant investigations in chemistry and physics, using the programming language Logo, to read sensors and obtain and analyze data. Students will obtain, evaluate, and communicate technical information as they compare and contrast innovations and advantages of components, subcomponents, or software features from commonly used technologies.

This course has been specifically designed to implement Next Generation Science Standards in the High School classroom. Disciplinary Core Ideas are integrated with Crosscutting Concepts and presented in the context of Science and Engineering Design Practices.

All curriculum is available at the following link:

Learning by Making Curriculum

These files are divided by academic year and section. They include student guides, worksheets and slides for presenting in the classroom. Additional resources include an example course syllabus and analysis of educational standards met by our curriculum. The Learning by Making Curriculum is licensed under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike agreement.

Unit 1: TurtleLogo

Redesigned in 2021, Unit 1 presents students with increasingly complex challenges for writing coding structures and syntax. TurtleLogo is a computer programming language that produces visual images and geometric patterns based on a basic language structure, geometric commands, and algorithms. Students will learn about sea turtles and their life cycles as they use mathematics and computational thinking to create visual art images and geometric designs. Unit 1 includes specific programming tasks such as using loops, variables, and functions. The Crosscutting concepts of patterns and cause and effect are extended to coding skills. Students learn patterns between geometric algorithms and the visual displays they produce. Students experience cause and effect outcomes as they design code to create the desired result and troubleshoot syntax errors. Students will learn how scientists use the information gathered from interactions with technology to design models or real-world simulations for a variety of purposes, such as communicating information or making predictions. At the end of the unit, students will simulate the entire sea turtle life cycle by developing a visual model. The model will include the motions of mother turtles and their hatchlings, as well as the way that they move through coastal feeding areas and navigate the Atlantic ocean gyres.

SEP and CCCs:
Scientific and Engineering Practices:

  • Mathematical and Computational Thinking

Cross Cutting Concept:

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Explanation

Unit 2: Going With the Electron Flow

This unit uses electrical energy as a context for understanding how energy is converted from one form to another. Students will build and modify simple circuits using LED lights, resistors, and BasicBoards. Students will also configure the BasicBoard and Arduino system to control LEDs wired to digital pins and learn the polar nature of LEDs, their physical characteristics, and how to measure voltage and resistance throughout the system. Building on the coding and system design skills from the previous unit, students will learn fundamental properties of electricity and electronic components, as well as planning and carrying out investigations using sensors. They will plan and carry out investigations to understand the concept of electric current as the flow of electrons that are negatively charged parts of the atom that travel on a path provided by conductive materials. The application of mathematical thinking to use Ohm’s Law to test and measure connectivity and resistance across various locations on the BasicBoard will challenge students to ask questions and construct explanations. At the end of the unit, students examine the molecular-level structure and function of the BasicBoard’s materials and design to communicate scientific and technical information in relation to its purpose. Using knowledge that the students gained in this unit, they will write a Morse Code communication Logo program to send and receive coded messages via blinking LEDs.

NGSS Performance Expectations
HS-PS3-3: Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
HS-PS2-6: Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
HS-PS1-7: Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction.

Unit 3: Sensors

Unit 3 combines everything students have learned about Logo programming to create a physical product that requires the use of loops and logic statements. Light and temperature sensors are introduced, and students learn how to use them to control, interpret, and experiment. Mathematics and Computational thinking skills are applied as students plot the relationship between analog sensor readings and digital BasicBoard outputs. The Unit 3 investigations with sensors provide hands-on phenomena designing and implementing their own hardware, software, and data analysis techniques to test a hypothesis they put forth based on a series of simple starter experiments.

The second half of the unit provides an integrated exploration of the conductive properties of water, leading to investigations of the effects of water on Earth materials and surface processes. Students plan and carry an investigation to measure the flow of electricity through moist soil. Following this, students then investigate their local watersheds to understand their source of water, its storage, treatment, and release. Students will analyze and interpret geoscience data to construct a claim and argument from evidence relating changes in Earth’s surface properties and the availability of water for human use.

NGSS Performance Expectations:
HS-PS-2: Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles.

HS-ESS2-5: Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.

Experiment Units

To engage students in a series of in-depth hands-on laboratory activities to further investigate concepts of energy and matter, students in this unit will synthesize each of the skills and practices that they have learned throughout the previous three units. Students will refine their skills for conducting scientific research by correlating a detailed diagram of the experiment they will set up to describe how the different components of the absorption system work together. Students will also learn about simple power circuits, the photoelectric effect, and optimization techniques. The unit concludes as students create a presentation of their ideas of absorption and their practical implications in the real world.
NGSS Performance Expectations
HS-PS3-3: Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
HS-PS4-4: Evaluate the validity and reliability of claims in published materials of the effects that different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation have when absorbed by matter.

Evaporation Experiment

The Evaporation experiment is the starter for the Water and Soil experimental unit. It uses hardware found on the experiment’s shopping list.

Absorption Experiment

The absorption experiment is the starter experiment for the Light and Energy experimental unit. Hardware can be found on the experiment’s shopping list.

Microbial Fuel Cell Experiment (MFC)

Here is a shopping list for hardware used in the MFC experiment.

Reference Material

JSLogo Documentation
Troubleshooting Guide

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