STEMSCOPES V. DISCOVERY EDUCATION

As science teachers, we all want to find and use curriculum resources that foster criticial thinking and boost student learning! When it comes to STEM education, there truly are so many standards-aligned science curriculum options available today. But which should you choose?! Great question! This summer, I’ve put together a series of blog posts unpacking and reviewing several of the most widely used STEM curriculum programs. To create these review articles, I surveyed the best curriculum experts: real-life classroom teachers. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at two popular science education programs: STEMSCOPES and DISCOVERY EDUCATION. 

​ALL ABOUT STEMSCOPES

STEMscopes Science is a NGSS aligned product created by the Accelerate Learning company. It’s primary focus is to provide students with hands-on activities with real world applications. This unique STEM program follows the 5E + IA model for stem teaching.

The  5 e model implemented in this program includes: 

1. Engage

2. Explore

​3. Explain 

4. Elaborate

5. Evaluate

As students work through the interactive content and use the assessment tools, teachers are able to differentiate this program to meet the unique needs of each individual student. STEMscopes offers instructional supports for students in need of intervention or acceleration. It’s not easy to find a science instruction program that truly does offer something for students at all levels. This differentiation of instructional materials is one of the best practices that STEMscopes makes a high priority in their curricular resources. 

DISCOVERY ED: WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT

It’s hard to find a company with more to offer than Discovery Education. Truly, DIscovery Ed could be your one-stop k-12 science resource offering. The Discovery Education experience helps foster student excitement of science through a few different resources: 

​This digital science textbook offers ready-to-go lessons, making unit planning simple for middle school science teachers. Each unit finds creative ways to give students opportunities to discover the marvels of our world. This program invites students into critical thinking through action-packed journeys and hands-on investigations. For a tech perspective, this program integrates perfectly with all major digital resources (i.e Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, etc.) 

This program is packed with open-and-go lessons that teachers can use at any grade level. These next generation science standards-aligned lessons include many opportunities for cross-curricular connections. 

Mystery Science helps K-5 students explore key scientific concepts in a way that builds interest and excitement for science class! The program tagline “hands-on science made easy” truly is the best way to describe this program. For younger students, Mystery Science is a great option because of its ease of use and real-world storylines. 

Pivot Interactives was designed to be a supplemental resource in addition to the other Discovery Ed science programs. The Pivot program offers tons of virtual stem activities to give students additional practice with inquiry skills and higher-level thinking. 

WHAT ARE REAL TEACHERS SAYING? 

STEMscopes versus Discovery Ed…which program is better? Well, it honestly depends on who you talk to. I asked my Facebook group of over 13,000 middle school science teachers to share their thoughts and honest opinions about these two popular science curriculum options. Let me tell you…they had a lot to share about both! Here’s what real-life middle school teachers had to say about STEMscopes and Discovery Education Science: 

My take on the feedback:

Okay, right off the bat one piece of feedback stands out to me: Teachers in my Facebook group felt that Discovery Education did not have any hands-on activities. This can be a little confusing since, as I shared earlier, the Mystery Science program from Discovery Ed boast “hands-on science made easy.” After doing a little research, my best conclusion is that the teachers sharing this feedback must’ve only been using the K-12 science programs: Discovery Ed Techbook or Discovery Ed Experience. Both of these programs appear to be highly virtual, although they do claim to offer some hands-on activity packs.

Second…several teachers suggested that STEMscopes is not aligned with Next Generation Science Standards. This report agrees with that assessment, however the STEMscopes website claims to be NGSS aligned.

SO…what’s the takeaway?

Different people and resources will have different ideas and opinions to share when it comes to good curriculum resources. There isn’t a one size fits all teachers or classrooms. My goal in writing this series is to give you a good snapshot of ideas and information so you feel better equiped to make your own curriculum decisions.

Looking for more curriculum information?

STEMscopes and Discovery Education aren’t the only curriculum options on the market. If you’d like to read real teacher feedback about other science programs, I’ve got you covered! Check out these other reviews on popular middle school programs: 

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