STEM Technology: 5 Tools That Will Change the Classroom

by Matter & Form on May 21, 2019

As STEM technology redefines the way subjects like Math and Science are being taught at every grade level, educators must properly prepare their students to thrive in a forward-facing world by integrating STEM technology into the classroom whenever possible.

From exercises like engineering bridges out of popsicle sticks to 3D scanning and printing, STEM activities and technologies can enliven and enrich the classroom at almost any grade level. The following STEM technology tools can provide teachers with an easy way to create a STEM-rich classroom and maximize the capacity for student’s learning.1

1. STEM Activity Sets

No Cost – Low Cost | Kindergarten – 3rd Grade

While outfitting your school with the latest STEM technology can be a daunting and costly task, teaching students how Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math are all intertwined can be accomplished even at the most basic and introductory of levels.
Many engineering design challenges can be found within experiments using materials commonly found around the house such as cardboard boxes, popsicle sticks, paper cups, PlayDoh, or bricks and blocks.2 By filling boxes with these materials along with sets of cards that picture different structures as inspiration, you can create your very own STEM Bins. This activity allows students to explore the different possibilities of their materials and stretches their creativity by finding new ways to use everyday items.3

You can also purchase a variety of STEM-themed activity sets, cards, and toys at a relatively low cost, such as the Staples STEM Classroom Bundle or the STEM Simple Machines Activity Set.

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2. Robotic Toys

$400 | 4th – 6th Grade

Take building and construction a step beyond wooden, Magna or KNEX blocks to more advanced LEGOs that incorporate robotics. After students build out a LEGO BOOST or LEGO Mindstorm EV3, a computer program can be built to bring the robot to life and enable it to perform a variety of functions.4 Students who learn robotics in school get the chance to do something they love, while also gaining exposure to computer programming, laying a foundation for the development of future engineering skills.5

3. Augmented & Virtual Reality

$600 | Primary – Post Grad

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) provide immersive experiences that allow students to enter engaging 3D environments far beyond the two-dimensional classroom world of textbooks and handouts.

AR projects a 3D digital object into real-world physical space by means of a smartphone lens or tablet, allowing students to explore the object from all angles. For example, students can learn about the human body through interactive lungs, hearts or brains.6

VR, on the other hand, utilizes 360-degree images to replicate the visual experience of seeing an object or destination from the first-person perspective. Using educational apps and a VR headset, students can instantly adventure into educational spaces that would otherwise be impossible to explore. Through VR headsets such as the Google Cardboard and educational apps like Google Expeditions, teachers can transport students to virtual locations and take them on historic or scientific field trips without ever leaving the classroom.7

4. 3D Printers & Scanners

$750 | Primary – Post Grad

3D Printers and scanners are a great way to implement STEAM (STEM plus the arts) into the classroom curriculum. 3D technology is an enriching teaching tool that promotes imagination, creation and engagement that enables students to leverage their creativity and innovation within the world of design.8

3D printing lets students materialize their ideas and produce complex, functional shapes by making 3D solid objects from a digital file.9

A 3D scanner scans an object to create a 3D digital model, which can then be used for artistic design, measurement, or 3D printing. Students can scan real-life objects, alter their measurements on a digital platform, and identify how scale affects structure and performance.

Classroom Applications of a 3D Scanner:

  • Creative integration of 3D objects into art
  • Physical and digital modelling of abstract concepts
  • Design experimentation and insight into iterative processes
  • Reverse engineering where objects lacking technical drawings can be deconstructed and understood
  • Video game design and programming with the ability to expand a virtual universe to include everyday objects

Benefits of a 3D Scanner in the Classroom:

  • Introduces the design process in a quick, easy way
  • Bridges physical and digital worlds and integrates hands-on experience with digital work, moving from abstract to interactive student engagement
  • Allows students to create, scan, and study the nature of a piece of equipment or part and reshape, resize, or repurpose the model to fit a new circumstance
  • Compresses product design and development time, speeding up the design process to give students more freedom to initiate and follow through on their ideas within the time constraints of classroom scheduling
  • 3D scans made with the Matter and Form 3D Scanner can be saved in a variety of file formats and can be published in their interactive form on the web then shared on a class blog or used as part of a student’s personal web-based portfolio

The scanning process is iterative and requires students to experiment, analyze, and engage with computational thinking.10

5. Smart Boards

$1,500 – 6,500 | Primary – Post Grad

A Smart Board is a high-tech, interactive version of the traditional whiteboard and projector. Both teachers and students can write on the board with a marker and their writing will be recorded and translated from a digital marker line into a tangible visual element. As a touch-enabled screen, students can interact with images and move them around.11 Smart Boards maximize the potential for learning, allowing visual learners to observe, while tactile learners can learn by touching the board.12

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Incorporating STEM technology into the classroom will properly expose students to emerging technologies and open their eyes to the limitless potential of their future careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

To find out more about STEM technology, and how 3D scanning can bring student learning to life, visit our blog or browse our website today.

Works Cited

  1. InSight, STEM Essential Elements to STEMify the Classroom
  2. Vivify, Must Haves for a STEM Lab
  3. Medium, Integrating STEM Into the 21st Century Classroom
  4. Lift Enrichment, What is Lego Robotics? A Simplified Look Into The World of Lego Mindstorms
  5. Education World, Tech in the Classroom: Lego Mindstorms EV3
  6. Atlas, How Teachers Can Use Virtual and Augmented Reality
  7. CRISS, Uses of Virtual Reality in Education
  8. Matter and Form, 3D Technology in the Classroom
  9. 3D, What is 3D Printing?
  10. Matter and Form, How 3D Scanning is Transforming Education for both Teachers and Students
  11. Synthetic Smarts, 9 Benefits That Smart Boards Bring to the Classroom
  12. Global Citizen, 8 High-Tech Gadgets That Are Making Classrooms Smarter