STEM Bins by Kathleen Hartsell, Spring Branch Education Foundation verified non-profit

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Launched Jan 15, 2017
Ends Mar 15, 2017
This Cause Has Ended
Category: Sciences
Class Size: 40
Grade: 1st - 3rd 

As our culture moves further away from the “worksheet era”, we as teachers need to think of creative ways to broaden students’ perspectives in a hands-on environment.  We say ditch pencil & paper morning work; instead, ramp up student engagement by implementing STEM Bins! Our goal is to provide morning work/early finisher work that will prepare students for a long day of learning, all the while cultivating divergent thinkers and little engineers.  Early finishers will have a meaningful and creative outlet that keeps them engaged and excited as opposed to using traditional worksheets.  Ultimately, through play and discovery, our students will get to explore the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Each bin will have pictures of structures or task cards to flip through, as well as various materials.  Students work collaboratively or independently to design, create, and build.  They may discuss ideas with others, sketch out ideas, and build their structure.  Materials in the bins will change periodically to maintain student excitement and engagement.  Extension activities might include building structures with specific measurements, structures that can perform a task, or literacy extensions.

Materials Needed for STEM Bins:

  • Sturdy bins with lids for materials to be stored

  • Any household items or materials around the classroom (toothpicks, unifix cubes, base ten blocks, straws, cups, foil, paper clips, popsicle sticks, pattern blocks, geoboards, 3D shapes, cereal boxes, egg cartons, pipe cleaners, water bottles … etc etc)

  • Legos

  • Geometric shape templates

  • Stencils

  • Foam shapes

  • Playdough

  • Goobi Construction Set 

  • Pictures of real structures/structure riddles

  • Cuisiniere rods

  • Jenga blocks

  • Magnetic letters/letter tiles

  • Whiteboards/markers for sketching out drawings before building

  • Playing cards

  • Dominos

If we do not meet our goal...

If I do not meet my goal I will purchase bins that will allow us to begin implementing our idea.  We will continue to use manipulatives from around the classroom in the bins. 

Suggested Investments


Goobi Construction Sets

Open-ended construction toy that will allow students to build 3D structures.
Invest $60


LEGO Creative Brick Box

Legos allow for open-ended construction!
Invest $60


Magnet Tile Blocks

Children can acquire strong sense of color, geometrical shapes including 3d forms and numbers counts, physical magnetic polar and architectural design by playing.
Invest $75


Bins for STEM materials

We will need sturdy bins to store STEM materials in.
Invest $100


Classroom/Household Items

Items such as toothpicks, unifix cubes, base ten blocks, straws, cups, foil, paper clips, popsicle sticks, pattern blocks, geoboards, 3D shapes, cereal boxes, egg cartons, pipe cleaners.
Invest $100

Kathleen Hartsell

1st Grade Teacher, Spring Branch Education Foundation

I am a passionate 1st grade teacher at a Title I school in Houston, TX. I strive to find new and innovative ways to keep my students focused and engaged in their learning.

Spring Branch Education Foundation View All Causes

Houston, Texas

The Spring Branch Education Foundation is committed to helping Spring Branch ISD realize its mission: to provide every student a quality education in a safe environment. Who is the Spring Branch Education Foundation?
The Spring Branch Education Foundation was founded in 1993 to create voluntary financial support for Spring Branch ISD and to support its mission of quality education. The Foundation provides donors with a vehicle for making approved, tax-deductible gifts to SBISD. In 20 years, the Foundation has raised over $8,000,000, and has received a Houston Business Promise Award from the Greater Houston Partnership.

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