Defined STEM: A website based curriculum supplement that challenges students to problem-solve using their critical thinking skills

App of the Week
Formats: Website-based

Website: Defined STEM

What does it help with? 

Defined STEM provides relevance between real-world topics and classroom instruction through project-based learning. With credible articles, videos, rubrics, and prompts, Defined STEM also saves teachers valuable time spent lesson planning.

What grade and age range?  

 K-12

Is this core/supplemental/special needs/extra-curricular/professional development or what?

Defined STEM is a service that challenges students of all levels in a cross-curricular manner, and supplements the standards and classroom instruction.

What subject, topic, and standards is it mapped to? 

Defined STEM tasks have a cross-curricular focus, opening student’s eyes to the “big picture” of how to use what they’ve learned in the classroom, in the real world. The product covers all subjects, topics, and standards.

What lesson time does it use?   

Every module in Defined STEM offers a series of projects that can be delivered based on educator’s discretion. While some users take a few days to complete a project with students, others take weeks or even months.

What is the pricing model? 

Defined STEM is subscription based, costing $2950/year/school for elementary and middle and $3500/year/school for high school.

Are there services around it? 

Defined STEM offers a variety of training options and professional development to assist districts in implementing the tool.

What makes it unique?

Defined STEM utilizes a wide variety of careers, allowing students to relate to classroom instruction through project-based learning. Tasks are aimed to make students think differently about the project. For example, if a class is doing a project where they have to design plans to build a house, they’re told that they are builders who are constructing a home that will withstand hurricanes. They learn the ins and outs of what is takes to build a home, and how what they’ve learned in math, ELA, science, and other subjects can be used to complete one task.

Defined STEM content is also extremely flexible. Teachers can customize tasks to best fit students’ unique needs. The projects allow students to let their individual creativity shine. Defined STEM brings relevance to education, allowing students to see a use for their skills outside the classroom.

A description of the characteristics—how is it designed for user interface, user experience?  What instructional design principles are at work here?

Defined STEM offers both performance and literacy tasks that align with school standards. The performance task can serve as an authentic assessment that can be utilized by taking into consideration the many different ways that students learn. Each performance task provides many opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding. Since the “one-size-fits-all” classroom minimizes student success, both the performance task and associated content have been designed to provide opportunities for all learners based upon the teacher’s knowledge of his/her students. Supporting the performance task are videos, simulations, and learning connections meant to support mixed ability levels, interests, and foundational knowledge.

The language tasks are designed to allow students to produce narrative writing pieces that are connected with content areas and relevant issues. The tasks provide online informational and argumentative resources for students to review prior to engaging in the writing process. All of the language tasks are designed using a similar template. There are two types of language tasks: informational and argumentative. Each task contains a scoring guide aligned with the Common Core College and Career Anchor Standards for Reading and Writing.

A teacher’s review:

Kimberly Corallo

Dysart Unified School District (AZ)

“My students love the Defined STEM performance tasks. They use skills to complete cross-curricular projects that are both educational and fun. It allows them to think outside the box and explore new topics they may have never thought of. The resources provided by Defined STEM allow the students to set the stage for the entire project while making room for individual student creativity.”

For more information, visit Defined STEM.