Product Focus: K12 science instruction

By: | January 29, 2018

The spread of learning on mobile devices has driven providers to push science platforms into the cloud. At the same time, the need for hands-on activities and real-world connections has led to the development of more advanced robot-building kits and products that allow students to experiment on microorganisms.

Educators also increasingly connect STEM to other subjects. For instance, students are learning about scientific concepts by reading fiction.

Discovery Education

STEM Connect

This online program engages K8 students by presenting science problems through fictional stories and by connecting content to current science careers. It also offers a global lab where learners from around the world collaborate and enables students to apply STEM Connect activities to real-world challenges. Learners can access the program on laptops, tablets, smartphones and interactive whiteboards.

MudWatt: Grow a Living Fuel Cell

MudWatt by Magical Microbes

This kit includes 10 renewable power sources that turn chemical energy into electrical energy using microorganisms. Students can maximize the power output of their MudWatt by experimenting with different types of soil and food. A MudWatt Explorer App lets learners measure power and track bacteria growth.

The Martian: Classroom Edition

Penguin Random House Academic Resources

The Martian—written by former programmer Andy Weir—tells the fictional story of an astronaut stranded alone on Mars. Teachers can connect the character’s fight for survival to real scientific procedures, including calculating how long his food would last and using chemical processes to create water from hydrogen and oxygen.

Live and interactive video programs

Streamable Learning

Streamable Learning offers approximately 500 live and interactive STEAM videos each school year. The recorded programs—hosted by a community of science centers, zoos, aquariums, museums and universities—run approximately 30 to 40 minutes and replay several times. Broadcasts coincide with Chemistry Day, National Animation Day, National Moon Day, Rock and Fossil Week, and World Space Week, among other events.

HMH Science Dimensions

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This comprehensive K12 curriculum—which meets Next Generation Science Standards—includes two dozen virtual reality field trips to prehistoric caves, ancient swamps and the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, among other sites. It has digital and print content that covers complex concepts such as genetic inheritance and how forests recover from a natural disaster.

Grades 3-5 STREAM Missions Program

Pitsco Education

Pitsco’s cloud-based platform and hands-on projects pair core science instruction with reading, art, engineering and math. Each grade level has 15 topics. For example, fourth-graders studying earth processes conduct experiments with erosion, watershed runoff and acid rain. Fifth-graders perform different tests that investigators would use in a crime lab.

Google Science Journal and Vernier wireless sensors

Vernier Software & Technology

These sensors let students collect and graph time-based data—such as temperature, pressure, pH and heart rate. Students start by launching Google’s Science Journal app on Google Play with an Android mobile device and then connect to one of over 45 sensors. Students can make predictions, take notes, upload images from the experiment and annotate results.

The STEM Robotics Platform

Yaskawa Motoman

This cart includes a web-based curriculum, modeling and programming tools, and STEM-aligned activities. Its robotic arm can weld or assemble small parts. Teachers can purchase the complete modular package or individual components.

Exploring the Science of Sounds: 100 Musical Activities for Young Children

Gryphon House

With this book, children ages 3 through 6 can explore the science of music and sound through 100 activities. Youngsters learn about the relationship between size and pitch, and the ways that tempo affects how we listen to sounds. Other topics include creating musical instruments, and making sounds with your voice, hands, knuckles, fingers, lips, teeth and tongue.

Wireless CO2 Sensor

Pasco Scientific

Students use this sensor to measure the concentration of CO2 gas in a closed system or open environment. The sensor can log data and make measurements with a semipermeable, waterproof sleeve. It also monitors photosynthesis and animal respiration. It includes a USB charging cable, five sleeves, five O-rings and bottle.

Camp Invention 2018

National Inventors Hall of Fame

In 2018, Camp Invention—a nationally recognized nonprofit event that runs for one week during the summer—will focus on four activities. These include creating a small self-driving robot that senses changes in light and diagnosing malfunctioning robotic dogs at fictional animal shelters. Each camper will bring home two personalized robots.

The K-2 Advantage


Science4us’ K2 inquiry-based programs cover physical science, life science, and earth and space science with 28 modules of material. Kindergarteners experiment with tools, investigate plants and animals, and sort objects based on physical properties. First-graders examine the characteristics of living things and learn how everyday objects function in daily life. Second-graders study weather, magnetism and animal interactions.

Acellus STEM Robotic Labs

Acellus Learning System by International Academy of Science

These simulated courses are designed for special ed students. The coding course, for example, gives step-by-step video instruction for programming an actual or simulated Cellus Bot robot. Students “code” with small blocks that snap together, which allows them to focus on the fundamental principles of coding without having to master difficult programming languages. The video console and the Cellus Bot provide immediate feedback on student work.

Inspire Science

McGraw-Hill Education

This K5 online learning platform features audio flashcards, text highlighting tools and interactive pictures with informational pop-ups. Simulators, such as Newton’s Cradle, let students lift spheres and drop them at specific angles. The energy of the spheres can then be mapped on a graph. Inspire Science also includes songs, games, videos and tools for teachers.

Laying the Foundation

The National Math and Science Initiative

Laying the Foundation provides hands-on development for teachers based on subject, grade level and pedagogy. The multiday, summertime training puts teachers in the role of students in grades 3 through 12. Science lessons include building whirligigs and calculating their descents, exploring natural selection by simulating the survivability of rabbits that have different mutations, and investigating the space between a pair of electrodes connected to direct current.


Interested in edtech? Keep up with DA's Future of Education Technology Conference®.