STEAM education is being integrated into elementary schools as a way to engage more students in creativity, hands-on learning, and problem-based learning also referred to as Challenge-Based-Learning (CBL). This article focuses on elementary educators’ curriculum design for STEAM and presenting students with open-ended questions phrased as a challenge as a way to raise student interest and achievement (DeJarnette, 2018; Hunter-Doniger, 2018). When students received challenges to solve, they felt more open to sharing their ideas since there was more than one potential right answer (DeJarnette, 2018; Drake, 2012). When implementing CBL, teachers act as facilitators using a constructivist approach as students work in small groups to design, test, and iterate prototypes of their solutions (DeJarnette, 2018; Driscoll, 2005). This article highlights the impact of CBL on student engagement in a STEAM Lab or Makerspace.

Keywords: Constructivist Theory, Challenge-Based Learning, STEAM Lab, Makerspace, Elementary Education, K-5th Grade, Growth Mindset, Problem-Based Learning

Author/Artist Bio

Diana is an accomplished educator, researcher, and curriculum designer in STEAM Education. Her work includes Maker-Centered Learning, Challenge-Based Learning, Problem-Based Learning, and Design Thinking. Her expertise is featured in the documentary STEM Starts Now and was premiered at STEMie Fest in 2020. Watch here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CFSanAapJ5w/ In 2020, she graduated from The University of South Carolina with her Doctorate in Education. The heart of Diana’s work is focused on Women in STEAM, and Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA). Her research and curriculum are designed around role models in the STEAM workforce that are gender-inclusive. This way all students see people that look like them as examples of success and achievement. Her recent publication The Future is Female: STEAM Education Analysis can be found here: https://www.proquest.com/docview/2503956436/28A8E998FC9F4AC2PQ/1 Diana is the founder of STEAM Kids, LLC. She designs STEAM Curriculum for schools and organizations focused on teaching hands-on learning to the next generation of scientists, architects, engineers, artists, and mathematicians. Her most recent project included consulting as an expert advisor for Carol Cone on Purpose, FIRST Robotics, and The Walt Disney Company to engage young girls in robotics. She recently launched a trademarked clothing line dedicated to empowering kids to define their own future. Clothing features steam careers on clothing so kids see themselves as able to achieve in these fields. Diana has taught elementary school for the past 15 years and in addition to teaching kids, she has trained adults around the globe on how to design Makerspaces, STEAM Labs & curriculum aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). She works with them virtually or on location through conferences such as The People of Color Conference, the National Science Teaching Association Conference, and Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero Conferences (10x). Additionally, she is on the advisory board for Science & Children Magazine, a National Science Teaching Association publication.

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