The Natural Sciences Education & Outreach Center collaborates with CSU faculty, National Parks and citizen science programs to translate their current scientific research into unique STEM experiences for students.
What is a STEM Kit?
A STEM Kit is a box of tools and activities designed specifically to teach Scientific Inquiry and the Nature of Science.
Think of them in terms of those side bars in textbooks – really cool extensions to the main goal of the chapter!
How is a STEM Kit used in a classroom?
A classroom set is composed of 15 identical kits designed to be student-centered, guided inquiry explorations. Each kit is meant to be used by 2 students, for a total of 30 students at a time.
Paired students work at their own pace, while the teacher takes on the role of facilitator and guide. The students become the scientists, focusing on the scientific process, scientific illustration, data collection and analysis, and communication of results.
Each kit contains just about all of the materials needed (minus common things like water and paper towels) to explore some really interesting scientific research topics.
Topics and levels
Each kit listed below is ranked by level of instructor help needed by students and does not refer to the difficulty level of the kit content. More information about each kit (standards, tutorials, resources) are available on each kit’s web page.
Beginner Level Kits:
These kits require minor student-teacher interaction and can be checked out by any educator.
- Going Viral STEM Kit: Examine what viruses are and how the human immune system fights against them by simulating an epidemiological modeling with and without vaccinations and herd immunity. (4th through 12th grades)
- Plankton to Plastic Pollution STEM Kit: Plastic is everywhere! In our daily lives, we rely on plastic more than we think. Students learn about pollution to be part of the solution. (4th through 12th grades)
- Really Ancient Fossils STEM Kit: Learn how paleontologists uncover past events that led to the fossilization of a community of sea creatures millions of years ago. (6th through 12th grades)
- Soil Carbon STEM Kit: Analyze three soil samples from different areas of the 2020 Cameron Peak Fire to examine how carbon moves through the environment. (6th through 12th grades)
Intermediate Level Kits:
These kits require some student-teacher interaction and can be checked out by educators who have1) attended a STEM Friday with their students; 2) attended an NSEOC Key Note featuring a STEM kit; OR 3) successfully borrowed and returned kits in the past.
- Anchialine Pools STEM Kit: Uncover how the hidden groundwater is vital to the survival of these culturally significant pools that are unique to the islands of Hawaiʻi.(4th through 12th grades)
- Bees Please! STEM Kit: Find out and exchange data from an on-going citizen science project about different species of bees to explore bee biodiversity and behavior. (4th through 12th grades)
- Get Critical! STEM Kit: How does information get from one place to another so quickly? Carry on experiments with optical fibers to learn about reflection, refraction, critical angles, and diffraction. (6th through 12th grade)
- Get Energized! STEM Kit: Explore what it takes to develop a new, more efficient battery and solar panel by testing different materials. (4th through 12th grades)
- Solar Cars STEM Kit: Learn about engineering design principals and iterative prototyping by designing the most efficient solar car possible.(4th through 12th grades)
Advanced Level Kits:
These kits require quite a bit of vigilance and student-teacher interaction in order for all students to have success. They can be checked out only with EOC staff approval.
- High Tech Rocks! STEM Kit: Learn the science behind the technology in your electronic devices! Become a solid-state chemist by manipulating natural materials (like minerals) to produce useful physical properties (like magnets). (6th through 12th grades)
- Secrets of the Hibernators STEM Kit: Marmots, among other hibernating animals, hold answers to many health problems that humans face. Through experiments and data analysis, recognize how metabolism is moderated seasonally. (6th through 12th grades)
- Vital Ice STEM Kit: Interpret data collected from Denali National Park using model ice cores and learn about the concept of permafrost in a unique way. (6th through 12th grades)
- Hominid Skull Set: By measuring different skull parameters, students see similarities and differences between seven hominid relatives and infer evolutionary advances: Proconsul africanus, Pan troglodytes, Australopithecus africanus, Homo erectus, Homo sapiens neander-thalensis, Cro-Magnon, and Homo sapiens. A pre-lab activity where students reconstruct broken pottery gives younger students a better understanding of how paleontologists reconstruct fossils. (6th through 12th grades)
- GetWET Water Education**: The GetWET Observatory, located on CSU property along Spring Creek is a groundwater well field, allows students to study the interaction between the creek and the groundwater. **These can only be borrowed by teachers trained to use the GetWet backpacks. (6th through 12th grades)
Who can check out the STEM Kits?
The kits are available for teachers and informal educators in Colorado to check out for a duration of a week by submitting one of the following forms:
Loan Application Forms
- Local Pick-Up Loan Application Form – for educators in the immediate area of Fort Collins (i.e.: Greeley, Loveland, Ault, Windsor, Johnstown, etc.)
- Delivery Loan Application Form – for educators in Colorado outside of the immediate Fort Collins area
Return loan application forms to Courtney Butler via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or fax (970-491-7716).
Does checking out a STEM Kit have a cost?
Thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation and generous donations from individuals and foundations we are able to make these resources available to educators at no cost.
- Teacher Feedback Survey – after using a STEM kit, teachers must provide the EOC with feedback in order to request another kit.
Scientific inquiry is more complex than popular conceptions would have it. It is, for instance, a more subtle and demanding process than the naive idea of “making a great many careful observations and then organizing them.” It is far more flexible than the rigid sequence of steps commonly depicted in textbooks as “the scientific method.” It is much more than just “doing experiments,” and it is not confined to laboratories. More imagination and inventiveness are involved in scientific inquiry than many people realize, yet sooner or later strict logic and empirical evidence must have their day. Individual investigators working alone sometimes make great discoveries, but the steady advancement of science depends on the enterprise as a whole.
– Benchmarks for Science Literacy