Your Guide to Developing a Strong Middle School STEM Curriculum

Your Guide to Developing a Strong Middle School STEM Curriculum

One of the biggest challenges middle school educators face is creating a high-quality STEM curriculum, especially during distance learning. While STEM is the driving force behind many aspects of modern life, including technology and medicine, many instructors struggle to get kids interested.

Luckily, we’ve learned a lot about how to keep students engaged in STEM in the past few decades. When you use these strategies to improve your middle school curriculum, you will see the difference right away.

What Is a STEM Curriculum?

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. While U.S. schools have taught basic math and science for many decades, many do not provide students with opportunities to learn about other STEM areas or connect lessons to real-world problems.

Where a traditional curriculum is limited to isolated math and science lessons, a true STEM curriculum is interdisciplinary and hands-on. The curriculum helps students to connect what they learn in different classes and explore engineering, technology, and medical applications. Students are encouraged to explore their world around them as they think outside the box to solve problems or create something new.

Why Is STEM Important in Middle School?

STEM education is essential in the 21st century because it develops core skills that students will use throughout their lives. Because the coursework includes so much project work and real-life applications, a high-quality STEM education produces strong critical thinkers, team workers, and problem solvers.

STEM education also prepares students for many of the occupations that are key to a sturdier 21st-century economy, especially in our post-pandemic era. Software developers, medical professionals, industrial machinery mechanics, computer support specialists, electricians, cybersecurity analysts, and dozens of other in-demand workers need extensive STEM knowledge and problem-solving skills. To prepare for these jobs, students need a strong foundation in middle school so they can excel in the next stages of their education and the future workforce.

It’s also worth noting that the pre-teen and teenage years are a time when many students are figuring out their strengths and interests. To do that effectively, students need exposure to many different topics and activities, especially those that intersect with real-world issues.

What Should a STEM Program Include in Middle School?

STEM courses for middle school let students explore science, math, tech, and even engineering topics in depth. Students learn challenging concepts in both core and elective courses. Common STEM courses for middle schools include intermediate math, introductory life sciences, computational thinking, digital literacy, coding, and more.

A robust middle school STEM program should include many different topics and approaches:

  • A strong math and science foundation. Math and science are only two parts of STEM, but they form the foundation for almost every other STEM field. Your students need solid training in mathematics, the scientific method, and basic scientific knowledge to succeed.
  • Engineering projects. Engineering is a core component of STEM. The ideal middle school STEM curriculum will introduce students to engineering problems and include projects that teach students about engineering design. While you don’t need to require everyone to take an engineering elective, it is a good idea to build engineering projects into your school’s math and science courses.
  • Technology coursework and usage. By the time students graduate from middle school, they should be familiar with standard digital collaboration and productivity tools such as the Google Suite and Microsoft Office. Ideally, middle school students should also have opportunities to try coding, web design, or robotics.
  • Digital citizenship. Students need to know how to protect their personal information, avoid plagiarism, and comport themselves respectfully in online settings.
  • Interactive lessons. STEM is all about gaining and using knowledge to solve problems, so your school’s middle school STEM curriculum should include extensive opportunities for students to interact with the subject matter.
  • Real-world applications. Many students do not discover their passion for STEM until they see how the concepts and knowledge can help them make a difference in the outside world. Including real problems and activities makes students more prepared for the rest of their life and sparks a long-lasting interest that could lead to future innovation.
  • Accessibility. STEM lessons and projects should be accessible to all students, including students with disabilities, ELL students, and students from less advantaged backgrounds.
  • Online and hybrid learning options. Students and teachers should be able to connect online from anywhere, especially during a pandemic. Even if your school has reopened, your students should be able to keep going where they left off if they are sent home. Having online learning options can also improve accessibility for students with certain types of disabilities.

How do I create a strong middle school STEM curriculum?

Developing a high-quality STEM curriculum is never easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You can use the following steps and tips to build a stellar middle school STEM curriculum, regardless of whether you are starting from scratch or looking to revamp your current coursework.

1. Start with Strong Foundations

STEM begins with a solid background in math and science. You can’t do engineering without math or forensic work without scientific knowledge. If your students are not meeting learning benchmarks in these subjects, your school may need to focus more attention here.

2. Review Your Teaching Approach

Research shows that interactive, hands-on, and multisensory teaching approaches are more effective than lectures or reading. If you can, try to incorporate more hands-on lab work, games, engineering projects, science videos, and group discussions to help your students learn.

3. Add Real-World Problems and Activities to the Curriculum

Students are more engaged when they understand how they can use what they learn in the real world. For that reason, it’s important to use practice problems and group projects that simulate (or actually are!) real-world activities. Applied math problems, forensics-style science experiments, and discussions of how course material intersects with global issues such as pandemics and climate change can all help with this.

4. Make Time to Teach Tech Skills

Technology is both a core component of STEM and a vital part of numerous jobs and activities. In 2021, all middle school students need to know how to type efficiently, operate a computer, keep themselves safe online, and use digital productivity and collaboration tools. These tech skills are even more essential during a pandemic when students may need to learn from home or switch between in-person and distance learning at a moment’s notice.

5. Use Ed Tech Curriculum Supplements

If everything we’ve discussed above sounds overwhelming, don’t be afraid. In 2021, there are plenty of curriculum supplements out there that can help you create a stellar STEM curriculum with or without a lot of time or a strong background in the field.

Yeti Academy is a great curriculum tool to help you supplement your existing STEM curriculum. This digital program includes a variety of modules that teach coding, introductory biology, digital citizenship, computational thinking, and other subjects to your middle school students using ISTE standards. Each module is designed by a highly qualified curriculum designer and comes with all of the resources a teacher needs, including lesson plans, slideshows, activities, tests, and more.

Since Yeti is web-based and allows teachers and students to connect inside the app, it’s the perfect curriculum add-on to use during the uncertainty of a pandemic. Your students can learn in a traditional classroom or from home with ease.

Sign up to try Yeti for free today!


Sign Up For Your Free Account TODAY!

Recent Posts

Preparing Students for the Future with Computational Thinking
Preparing Students for the Future with Computational Thinking

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, the ability to think computationally is more crucial than ever before. From problem-solving to innovation, these skills equips students with tools preparing them for success in a variety of career paths. In this blog,...

Unlocking Potential: A New Approach to STEM Education
Unlocking Potential: A New Approach to STEM Education

In a world where technology reigns supreme and innovation is the name of the game, STEM education stands as a beacon of empowerment for students. Let's dive into the exhilarating realm of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and uncover the...


Yeti STEM Modules

Yeti Academy provides K-12 teachers, schools, and districts an easy to use and resource rich platform and students an exciting and relevant STEM learning experience. Categories of learning include: Coding, Keyboarding, Digital Literacy, Digital Citizenship, Computational Thinking, Science and more.

View All Modules


Let’s Get Started


Yeti Academy is available to classes, schools, and districts of all sizes. Choose from Yeti Essentials or Yeti Premium and gain access to all that Yeti Academy has to offer .


What Educators
Are Saying

“My administration is always asking us about ideas/classes they would consider teaching as electives. I would love to teach one of the Yeti modules, because everything would be included and I don’t have to do a lot of planning.”

— S. Harrington, 7th Grade Teacher, California

“Having had a chance to preview Yeti, I love all of the creative elements and components. Each lesson in the 7 modalities is so thorough and well thought out.”

— J. Westover, 6th Grade Teacher, Florida

“I really appreciate how Yeti has thoughtfully weaved Digital Citizenship components into the various technology modules. It supports the efforts our school is making as we strive to instill these qualities in our students as they are increasingly online in a remote environment.”

— T. Jordan, 8th Grade Teacher, Washington State

"It focuses on Google Tools. I even learned things through this."

— A. Campbell, Teacher - Rogers Adventist School, WA

"Students like using it and it is not difficult to get them started."

— J. Matchus, Teacher - St. Anne’s School, TX

"My daughter can work at her own pace."

— J. Ortega, Parent - Ortega Home School, TX

"Our district is excited about continuing the use of YA this school year!"

— S. Davis, Teacher

"Easy to use platform!"

— B. Rogers, Technology Coordinator - Armenian Sisters Academy, PA

"I have enjoyed using Yeti Academy this year and look forward to using it in the future."

— K. Rinehart, Technology Coordinator - Tewksbury Elementary School

"Our students and teachers love Yeti Academy. This program has proven to be a valuable asset in equipping our students with the essential skills needed for success in the digital age. Our students have not only improved their typing skills but have also honed their critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well. The positive feedback from students and teachers serves as a testament to the program's effectiveness in preparing our students to be confident and competent digital citizens."

— D. Bracken - Community Schools of Frankfurt

Recent Posts

Unlocking Potential: A New Approach to STEM Education

Unlocking Potential: A New Approach to STEM Education

In a world where technology reigns supreme and innovation is the name of the game, STEM education stands as a beacon of empowerment for students. Let's dive into the exhilarating realm of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and uncover the...

read more