Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2017

Defined STEM

Stellar collection of STEM resources supports project-based learning

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Math
  • Science
  • English Language Arts

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K–12
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (12 Reviews)

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5 images

Pros: The performance tasks are extremely thorough, result in student products, and cover key concepts in science and math.

Cons: Individualized student progress tracking and remediation tools are lacking.

Bottom Line: Excellent, well-thought-out resources for developing problem-solving skills in the classroom.

Teachers can use Defined STEM to supplement their science and math curricula. They can assign all or part of the tasks in the unit folders, making assignments customizable to the needs of the class. Since most of the tasks involve real-world applications of concepts, they also can be used as enrichment activities for advanced students. Or,show the videos as a way to hook kids when first introducing a topic.

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Defined STEM has performance tasks, literacy tasks, and other resources for kids in grades K through 12, although the literacy tasks begin at grade 3. Many resources are aligned with Common Core Math, Common Core ELA, and Next Generation Science Standards. However, considering that this is a STEM resource, the science alignment is on the weak side.

Resources are organized by grade band, task type (performance, career, or literacy), and unit topics. There's also a chart that allows users to search by standard. Teachers can use the Task Center to organize and customize tasks and rubrics. A teacher dashboard exists, but its function is not entirely clear, and the links to professional development modules were not working at the time of this review.

Performance tasks, which are often difficult to develop, are at the heart of Defined STEM and are an excellent way for kids to use critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Concepts are presented in real-world situations, challenging kids to apply their knowledge in unique ways. Connecting the performance tasks to careers is a clever way to give more meaning to science and math and inspire kids to learn. The literacy tasks empower kids to use reading and writing skills while learning about science, math, history, and more.

Defined STEM is an innovative resource that brings together important elements of STEM education. The focus of content is science and math. However, there are strong connections to engineering and technology, and most tasks require kids to read and evaluate informational texts. Rubrics are provided, although most are generic to a certain subject area or skill. However, users can customize any rubric to better align with specific tasks or assignments.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The real-world connections within each resource are bound to excite and inspire kids of all ages.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The resources are centered on project-based learning, which is an effective way for kids to build a wide range of skills. Remediation activities could help students who need more support.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The site is well organized and easy to navigate, and a blog appears to be updated regularly. The professional development modules were not functioning at the time of this review.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 12 reviews) (12 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Valerie B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Elmhurst School District 205
Elmhurst, United States
STEM PBL Learning While Having Fun
I have been wanting to delve into project based learning and this helped to create the structure and give me the tools to implement it in my 4th grade classroom. Even my students who have special needs such as ADHD and autism were activity engaged in the activities. I loved the creativity that my students showed when creating the projects.
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