Teacher Experience: “Mars Transportation Consultant” Task for 6th Grade English Language Arts Students
A Defined STEM Learning Experience From:
6 th -Grade English Language Arts Teacher
Diley Middle School (OH)
Mars Transportation Consultant
Here’s What We Did:
As part of our debate unit, we gave the students some choice of topics, showing them videos and research materials from four Defined STEM performance tasks. Students voted on the topic they’d like to learn more about, which was creating a form of transportation on Mars. Students worked with a partner, group, or independently to create a “Shark Tank”-style sales pitch. Using the rubric, students worked together to complete a variety of tasks, including research on the planet, atmosphere, sustainability, and resources. Students created one-of- a-kind, innovative ideas, from a “Chernobyl” dome on for living on Mars, to a space ship for transportation from Earth. As a grand finale, students presented their islands in a Shark Tank with district representatives acting as the sharks. The goal was to convince the sharks to buy their product over their classmates’. The projects students came up with were very detailed, well thought-out, and overall impressive.
Why Defined STEM Was the Perfect Fit:
Defined STEM worked in my ELA classroom because the passages used for research were high-interest, the products were interesting, and it was a way for kids to learn about debating through science and technology, as opposed to a textbook. Once the project was introduced, the motivation of the students became intrinsic. Students who are ordinarily disinterested in class projects were completely engaged and excited to come to class and work on their STEM projects. Their final presentations were very professional, and I could not have been prouder. They no longer needed to be pushed or prodded to complete their work because they enjoyed it so much—and they wanted to win the Shark Tank!