• Youth outdoors in the forest looking at a clipboard

    Best of STEM Strategies

    First launched in 2013, PLT had the opportunity to partner with Dr. Kris Irwin to author a total of 30 STEM Strategies that supplement activities within various PLT curriculum guides, including the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide. As Dr. Irwin plans for his retirement in early 2024, we are excited to share his favorite STEM Strategies from over the years.

  • chipmunk sitting on a log eating a seed with the text STEM Backyard Safari

    STEM: Backyard Safari

    Investigate how animals living in our backyards or schoolyards get what they need to survive and explore habitats nearby. These enrichments for a PLT activity, Backyard Safari, model the practices of a biologist by collecting and analyzing data and applying comparison and reflection skills to interpret research findings.

  • young woman kneels in a forest to sample soil using an auger

    STEM: Get Outside

    Use your senses to investigate nearby environments. These enrichments for a new PLT activity, Get Outside!, model the practices of a real scientist by collecting and analyzing data and applying comparison and reflection skills to interpret research findings.

  • STEM: Habitat Pen Pals

    Challenge students to use their creative skills to define a habitat, investigate related species, engineer a wildlife corridor, and manipulate an interactive model to demonstrate population growth.

  • hands cupping flowing water

    STEM: Water Wonders

    World Oceans Day (June 8) is the perfect time to explore the water cycle. Take PLT’s Water Wonders activity a step further with these STEM-focused ideas. Students will learn more about the importance of water conservation, how we use and engineer water, and they’ll discover some water-focused careers.

  • young woman measures a tree trunk

    STEM: How Big Is Your Tree?

    Big trees are amazing! While the height of tall trees can be difficult to comprehend, the diameter is something a bit more tangible to try and get your “arms around.” Use these STEM strategies to investigate the science of measurement, engineered wood, and the value of Pi.

  • young-boy-on-swingset

    STEM: Visit a Place Where

    What measurable effect does a visit to a favorite park or green space have on you? These STEM enrichment ideas for one of PLT’s popular activities will take your students outdoors to learn more about a local park or open space near them, and how they might conduct a scientific research experiment to determine the ways in which being outside can improve a person’s mood, health, and wellness.

  • photo-of-trash-and-pollution

    STEM: Pollution Search

    When you hear the word “pollution,” what type of pollution do you think about? Knowing the characteristics of each of the five types of pollution, and what you can do to reduce the amounts, can make a positive difference for the environment.

  • STEM: Sounds Around

    Have students discover the birds living in their backyard or on their block by using their sense of hearing with these STEM activities. How many unique bird species can you identify using only their song?

  • Producer

    STEM: Nature’s Recyclers

    Decomposers live off dead material and recycle nutrients into the soil for reuse by plants. These STEM activities teach students about producers, consumers, and decomposers.

  • Conceptual example of a storyboard

    STEM: Resource-Go-Round

    Students identify some of their favorite and essential products that come from a renewable resource—trees!—and research how they are manufactured.

  • Petroglyphs-Utah-storytelling

    STEM: Tale of the Sun

    Ideas to engage elementary and middle school students in science, technology, engineering, and math as they learn about history, tradition, and storytelling.

  • Classification system by Carl Linnaeus

    STEM: Picture This!

    Why do some organisms live in many environments while others are only found in very unique places? These STEM activities teach students about species diversity.

  • Wetlands-Algonquin-provincial-park-Canada

    STEM: Watch on Wetlands

    February 2 is World Wetlands Day! Use these ideas to engage middle school students in STEM as they explore wetlands and learn about why they are important.

  • Youth planting a tree

    STEM: Plant a Tree

    There is much to know before planting a tree. These STEM lessons help students learn how to plant the right tree in the right place.

  • forest-fire

    STEM: Living With Fire

    Use these STEM lessons to teach students the difference between a wildfire and a prescribed fire, and how fire can be beneficial to forests when it is planned and managed.

  • Pileated-Woodpecker-babies-in-nest-cavity

    STEM: Trees As Habitats

    Engage students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as they explore why snags make excellent habitats for birds, mammals, insects, fungi, amphibians, and reptiles.

  • STEM: Invasive Species

    Engage students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as they learn about the impact invasive species have on ecosystems and biodiversity.

  • PLT-tree-lifecylce-diagram

    STEM: Tree Lifecycle

    Engage students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as they learn about a tree’s lifecycle.

  • five-tips-for-math-word-wall

    STEM: Poet-Tree

    Engage students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) through the power of the written word. Try these enrichments for Project Learning Tree’s Poet-Tree activity.

  • STEM: Looking at Leaves

    Engage students in STEM to examine the physical characteristics of leaves and investigate how they can be used to identify trees with Project Learning Tree’s Looking At Leaves activity.

  • STEM: Field, Forest, and Stream

    Students investigate the interactions between living and non-living components in three local ecosystems with Project Learning Tree’s Field, Forest, and Stream activity.

  • STEM: Signs of Fall

    Engage students in STEM teaching and learning as they investigate the variables that cause leaves to change color with PLT’s Activity 78: Signs of Fall.

  • STEM: Have Seeds, Will Travel

    Whether floating on the air, getting carried by animals, or catching waves, plants use many techniques to send their seeds far and wide. Use this STEM focused PLT activity to teach about plant reproduction and seed dispersal.

  • STEM: Web of Life

    Discover how plants and animals are connected by taking a closer look at your local ecosystem to examine the interdependence of living organisms.

  • STEM: A Look at Lifestyles

    Use this PLT activity to examine products in today’s technology-based world and reflect on present, past, and future attitudes toward natural resource consumption.

  • STEM: Improve Your Place

    Help students use Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math applications to identify ways they can improve their school or neighborhood.

  • STEM: Every Drop Counts

    Help students cut back on water waste using these Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math applications.

  • STEM: Bursting Buds

    Spring is here! Flowers are beginning to bloom and new leaves are growing on the trees. Have your students take a closer look at trees to identify where leaves come from and how changing conditions affect leaf growth.

  • STEM: Adopt a Tree

    Encourage a greater understanding of your local environment and a tree’s place in it using this STEM focused activity.

  • STEM: Pass the Plants, Please

    Show your students how many of their favorite foods come from plants and engage them in real-world STEM learning.