As you watch the skill video below, think about these questions:

How does Jean and her staff "set the children up for success?" 

Why is it important to try out the activity and materials before hand? 

How might selecting appropriate materials impact youth learning?  


Watch the skill video


27 Selecting Appropriate Materials

This is a video of a real afterschool program. These videos serve as discussion starters around a particular skill and are not examples of perfect practice.

Now that you've watched the video, reflect on what you saw and post your responses.

Why do you think it's important to select appropriate materials when doing STEM?
kathleen Kunkel's picture
Students should feel comfortable and safe with materials.  I like the fact that students can look through the materials and choose what will work best for their outcomes.  This way they can use some reasoning and trial and error to find the best materials.  
Jo Anna McCormick's picture
I think the real issues here are safety and frustration. First, my goal is that none of my students will get injured using the materials. Next, I don't want the students to become frustrated. Challenged is awesome, but frustrated is a negative.I liked the ideas of switching hands to see if a smaller student could do the task and brainstorming possible negative outcomes. 
Frida Martinez's picture
Selecting appropriate materials when you are doing STEM is very important, because it has to be according to the age of the children youre teaching.
Slade Prisoc's picture
Appropriate materials should be used to reflect the age and ability of those doing the projects.
Margaret Holloway's picture
It is important to provide age appropriate and easy to handle materials for children to use in order for them not to get discouraged and give up. It is also important to have the correct tools and materials for whatever project you are working on so that the project can be completed. Enough materials need to be provided so veryone has access to the same materials to use in different ways.
Katrina Snide's picture
Thinking through how the child sees and interacts with the world will give clarity to the unique strengths and challenges children will face during any given activity. By selecting materials that have been tested and thought through with the child in mind, it leads to better success for the child and better understanding for the adult. When we have experienced the activity, using the supplies and tools that children would use, we are in a unique position to connect and understand the child, helping them through the challenges instead of getting frustrated when "they don't get it" or struggle. We can help them better when we understand and relate. By setting the child up to succeed, without making it too easy and leaving room for their creativity, we facilitate their problem solving and confidence building.
Jennifer Wulf's picture
It is important to select appropriate materials when doing STEM. Inappropriate materials can make the children frustrated and uninterested. We want them to be enganged and active.
Angelica Gutierrez's picture
STEM can be intimidating for students, especially if they're are given materials they have never seen before. By providing a variety of materials, students can brainstorm and figure out what works best for their experiment to work. As for the teachers, it is very important that experiments/projects are tested using the same materials so that as the facilitators we are prepared to help support our students and help them succeed. 
What examples of types of materials did you see were especially successful with youth?  How could you tell?
Jo Anna McCormick's picture
I was nervous about the glue gun, but I think all students can use string and tape well.
Frida Martinez's picture
The materials that were successful for this group of kids were the right size of scissors and extra materials
Margaret Holloway's picture
Small scissors, screw drivers, hot glue gun were some of the tools I noticed children were using in thier projects. I noticed the hot glue gun and was a little concerned but noticed the child was using it properly and to connect objects. I like that teachers have to use materials and test out projects before to insure that evrything is appropriate and useful.
Katrina Snide's picture
I loved how the hot glue guns were in the middle of the table but the cords were up and out of the way, it provides for ease of use and sharing. I also noticed that there was a variety of small and large materials to choose from but that the teacher directed students to the ones that would work best, or as a jumping off point. Watching that the children had ease of access to supplies was benefical because they could make the choices to try a new material without having to ask for it, or just seeing something may spark and idea. I also noticed that sometimes the students worked on small, individual trays. I think this would help to keep materials together for a project. Mostly I noticed that the materials, tools and staff attentiveness made the children look comfortable in their task, knowing they had all the support and supplies they needed to solve whatever problem they faced. 
Jennifer Wulf's picture
Some of the things I noticed the children really enganging were the ones that normally they are not given access too for lengths of time, scissors to cut things, hot glue guns, screw drivers to  disassemble something. Why do we not give children access to these things often? Because they are curious and WILL use them. I will keep this in mind. With proper supervision these tools become fun and empowering.