Welcome to GPS-STEM.com

Free STEM lessons for Middle and High School Teachers! 

The U.S. government developed a new curriculum using GPS concepts & applications to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The curriculum is designed for the middle/high school level and tied to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):

These lessons are fun! and already ready to go with…

    • Great stories, videos, & content for Inquiry Based Learning!
    • Maps to Common CORE 3D Learning!
    • Engage Your Class With Great Low/No-Cost Activities!

GPS-STEM is a great resource for Teachers:

    • STEM curriculum focused on fun GPS-based concepts
      • Built 4 modules; 12 lesson plans submitted
      • Totals 50-60 hours of classroom time ~1-2 classes per week
      • Each lesson can be used independently!
    • Uses STEM “Blended Model” with concepts and real-world applications
      • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
      • “IDEA” pedagogy: Inquiry, Discovery, Explanation, Application
    • Presents compelling STEM occupations and a spectrum of cool careers!
      • Career types and knowledge requirements incorporated within most lessons
      • Emphasis on real-world problems to explore example career challenges
    • Highlights heroes from underrepresented demographics
      • Women and minority pioneers in STEM fields included within various lessons
      • Emphasis on opportunities across the educational and vocational spectrum of STEM

Curriculum Map – Pick What Works for You!

Modules

Lessons (3 Per Module)

Earth

Are we there Yet?

Mapping it out with Longitude & Latitude

Do you read me?

Radio, Magnets & Information Transfer

I’m on my way!

Navigation & Global Positioning System

Space

Launching Explorations

Satellites & Orbits

Living Weightless:

International Space Station

Orbital Rendezvous:

Calculating Resupply for ISS

Life

Baby is it Cold Outside? Weather Forecasting Saving Mother Nature: Environmental Conservation Feed the World: Agriculture & Precision Farming

Movement

Up Up & Away!

Aviation Moves Us

Networks of Power: Energy & Information Global Supply Chain: Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Lesson Design

Lesson Design follows “IDEA”

Inquire: Present an Event for Inquiry

Discuss: Open Discussion

Explain: Mini lecture

Apply: Exercise

(Repeat)

Lesson Structure:

Overview   – helps to pick a lesson so you know what you get!

Objectives – explains lesson intent and core content

Activity Summary – short lesson description

Lesson Brief – teacher’s script & guide

Presentation – teaching visuals

Other Materials:

videos, exercises, links, references, etc.

Want to Know When We Publish More?

  • We’re planning lots of great new features for the curriculum:
    • Inverted Classroom Videos
    • Certificates of Completion
    • Self-Paced Learning Modules

Please let us know you’re interested and sign up below!

Module 1: Earth

Earth

Lesson 1 –  Are We There Yet?  Mapping it out with Longitude and Latitude

Grade Level Content Standards for 6-8th
Subjects Physical Science or Earth & Space Science
Duration Preparation:     Minimum (<15 min)                                   

 Activity:  1.5 hour class time

Setting Classroom with internet and PowerPoint

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Be able to explain the concepts of geographic coordinates, longitude and latitude
  2. Calculate distances on a map
  3. Understand the distortions and differences between types of 3D and 2D maps

Activity Summary

In this lesson, students will be introduced to the locating points on the earth using geographic coordinates. They will be introduced to the types of models used to understand the shape and locations on the earth’s surface. Students will get to engage in fun activities like creating their own paper globe, finding the geographic locations of famous cities, using a compass and calculating the travel time to Disneyland.  

Materials



Lesson 2 – Do You Read Me? Radio Waves, Magnetism, and Information Transfer

Grade Level Content Standards for 6-8th
Subjects Physical Science,  Earth, and Space Science
Duration Preparation:     (minimum <15 min)                                    

Activity:  3 hours class time

Setting Classroom with internet, video software and PowerPoint

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Be able to define, describe and draw magnetic field lines around a single magnet
  2. Describe the interaction between like and unlike magnetic poles
  3. Be able to understand waves in various forms
  4. Understand how radio waves are used to transmit information

Activity Summary

In this lesson, student will explore magnetic forces, be introduced to radio waves and concepts involving the electronic transfer of information.  The students will have an opportunity to work with magnets, engage in on-line simulations and in a physical activity to demonstrate how radio waves work.

Materials



Lesson 3 –  I’m On My Way! Navigation & Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

Grade Level Content Standards for 6-8th
Subjects Physical Science,  Earth, and Space Science
Duration Preparation:     1 hour prior to class                                    

Activity:  3 hours class time

Setting Classroom with internet and PowerPoint

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Be able to understand how geological coordinates are determined and used for navigation
  2. Identify what the Global Positioning System (GPS) is and various applications of GPS
  3. Be able to calculate the travel time of a GPS signal

 

Activity Summary

In this final lesson of the first module, students will be introduced to GPS and navigation.  The students will do a brief exercise to calculate the time/distance formula required for satellite location positioning.

Materials

Module 2: Space

Space

Lesson 4 – Launching Explorations: Satellites and Orbits

Grade Level Content Standards for 6-8th
Subjects Physical Science, Earth & Space Science or Math
Duration Preparation:     Collect materials 2-3 weeks in advance    

Activity:  5 hours class time

Setting Classroom with internet, access to youtube and powerpoint

Outside space for rocket launch

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Be able to understand how satellites are launched into space
  2. Be able to describe how satellites are able to stay in orbit, as well as the various orbits and their uses
  3. Understand orbital space clutter concepts and challenges

Activity Summary

This is the introduction lesson to engage students on the relationship of GPS to air and space.  The activity options in this lesson include launching a model rocket and building a satellite. It is suggested that the lesson begin with the introductory video of astronauts in the Space Station (formerly called the “International Space Station”), which introduces all relationships of satellites, orbits and the benefits of space exploration to the human race.    

Materials



Lesson 5 – Living Weightless: The Space Station

Grade Level Content Standards for 6-8th
Subjects Physical Science, Earth & Space Science or Math
Duration Preparation:     Collect materials 2-3 weeks in advance    

Activity:  7 hours class time

Setting Classroom with internet, access to YouTube and PowerPoint

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Understand what the Space Station (SS) is and how it benefits Earth
  2. Be able to describe the challenges of working in space
  3. Be able to explain how we supply, navigate, and operate the ISS both on Earth and in orbit
  4. Be able to describe the roles of Earth-based team members who support space missions (launches, operations, and returns)

Activity Summary

This is an overview of the Space Station (formerly called the International Space Station) and how GPS technologies support it. The lesson will provide an understanding of what it is like to live in space and how the SS is maintained over many years. Activities in this lesson include building a space station, calculating a resupply mission,  and protecting satellites against micrometeoroids. There are a number of videos available to supplement this lesson or assign as supplemental viewing at home. Teacher time and discretion will determine if all are utilized.     

Materials



Lesson 6 – Orbital Rendezvous: Calculating Resupply for the Space Station

Grade Level Content Standards for 7-8th
Subjects Physical Science, Earth, Space Science and Math
Duration Preparation:     0.5 hours prior to class                                 

Activity:  50 minutes class time

Setting Classroom with internet and video/movie capabilities

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  • Use geometric definitions to describe the properties of circles
  • Find the circumference of circles
  • Calculate arc lengths
  • Find the measure of central angles
  • Use the properties of similarity, such as scale factor

Activity Summary

This is a hands-on lesson where students will utilize geometry math concepts to learn how to apply those concepts in the context of space exploration.  The focus is to promote inquiry through real world applications. Doing so will place students in the role of NASA scientists, engineers and researchers who work in teams to accomplish tasks.  In this lesson, students will use circle properties to predict and monitor the positions of the Space Station (aka International Space Station or SS) versus a space shuttle launched from Kennedy Space Center as they attempt to dock in space. The lesson will promote cooperative learning, problem solving and the use of technology. This lesson will take 1 class session.

Mathematics is an essential component of contemporary science and engineering and this lesson can be a valuable supplemental component for students as it exposes them to the limitless options in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM fields.  Students should have prior knowledge of the geometric principles of circles, circumference, central angles, arc length and scale factor.

Materials

Module 3: Life

Life

Lesson 7 – Baby Is It Cold Outside? Weather Forecasting

Grade Level

Content Standards for 8th

Subjects Physical Science, Earth Science
Duration Preparation:    20 min

Activity:  4 hours class time

Setting Classroom with internet access and outdoor access

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Describe how weather forecasting has evolved from the observation of patterns to modern forecasting equipment.
  2. Explain how engineering advancements in weather forecasting improve the quality of people’s lives around the world.
  3. List several examples of technology behind modern forecasting equipment (weather balloons, satellites and weather radars).
  4. Describe how disturbed GPS signals are analyzed in order to understand the type of weather they passed through.
  5. Compare actual results to expected results to find out reasons for any differences.
  6. Describe how GPS satellites are used for more than just navigation, specifically for natural disasters and other atmospheric phenomena.

Activity Summary

Students consider how weather forecasting plays an important part in their daily lives and the role of GPS in weather forecasting. They learn about the history of weather forecasting — from old weather proverbs to modern forecasting equipment — and how improvements in weather technology have saved lives by providing advance warning of natural hazards.

Activities will include building a weather station and simulating message distortions to represent information sent from GPS satellites as they pass through different atmospheric conditions and reach other satellites.

Materials

  • Lesson 7 Brief (Start Here) – click to download
  • PowerPoint Presentation – click to download
  • Video: STEM stories NOAA’s Pam Henselman – click this link to watch 
  • Weather Forecasting Worksheet (one per student) – click to download
  • Weather Station Worksheet (one per team) – click to download
  • Forecasting w/ Clouds Reference Sheet (one per team) – click to download
  • One large box or crate per team as the team’s weather station tool kit
  • 2 Index Cards per Student
  • Weather Tool #1: Wind Vane

    • Wind Vane Worksheet –  click to download
    • Cardstock
    • straight pen
    • pencil with eraser
    • scissors
    • hot glue
    • pencils and markers
    • plastic straw
    • compass
    • small piece of modeling clay
    • piece of cardboard
  • Weather Tool #2: Barometer

    • Barometer Worksheet  – click to download
    • 2-liter plastic bottle
    • food coloring
    • clear plastic cup
    • water
    • marker
  • Weather Tool #3: Thermometer

    • Thermometer Worksheet – click to download
    • maximum/ minimum thermometer
    • tape
    • climatology data for your area
  • Weather Tool #4: Rain Gauge

    • Rain Gauge Worksheet – click to download
    • wide glass
    • masking tape
    • straight, thin jar (a graduated cylinder works best)
    • water
    • ruler


Lesson 8 – Environmental Conservation: Saving Mother Nature 

Grade Level Content Standards for 6-8th
Subjects Physical Science, Earth Science
Duration Preparation:    20 min                         

Activity:  10 Hours

Setting Classroom with internet

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Be able to identify the types of environmental challenges that exist in the world
  2. Be able to explain and give examples of how land use and water quality impacts the ecosystem
  3. Be able to list ways that soil erosion can be minimized in the watershed
  4. Be able to identify 4 best management practices to reduce water pollution
  5. Be able to explain the water quality requirements for healthy oyster populations
  6. Be able to suggest 3 management practices that can be used to improve water quality for oyster growth and reproduction
  7. Be able to describe how natural seasonal climate changes as well as human activities may affect the rainforest
  8. Build upon previous lessons to utilize models demonstrating satellite remote sensing used to observe and measure plants

Activity Summary

This is an overview of environmental challenges in the world and come of the conservation efforts ongoing to maintain a positive carbon footprint and reverse damages to the environment due to human inattention.  The lesson provides an overview of the inter-related activities within the environment and the issues facing the human race and the Earth today.  The lesson includes a lot of data review, online investigation and analysis.

Materials



Lesson 9 – Feed the World! Agriculture and Precision Farming

Grade Level Content Standards for 8th
Subjects Life Science, Earth Science, Technology
Duration Preparation:    10 min                         

Activity:  4 hours of class time

Setting Classroom with internet

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Be able to explain what is “Precision Agriculture” and why the world needs it.
  2. List common applications of GPS and GIS technologies used to enable better farming results.
  3. Outline the ways in which Differential GPS is are implemented in production agriculture
  4. Be able to discuss potential careers and applications of precision farming throughout the United States

Activity Summary

This hands-on lesson teaches students how precision agriculture uses geographic information systems (GIS) to help farmers and manufacturers make smart, efficient, and responsible decisions about how and when they plant, grow, irrigate, harvest and transport crops.

Materials

  • Lesson 9 Brief (Start Here) – click to download
  • PowerPoint Presentation – click to download
  • Video: Fields of the Future – click to watch
  • Video: Farming is High-Tech! – click to watch
  • Video: GPS/GIS Technology: Training & Careers –click to watch
  • Video: Precision Farming in the Family –  click to watch
  • GPS Impact Worksheet – click to download
  • Increasing Production w/ Precision… Student Handout – click to download
  • Increasing Production w/ Precision… Teacher Key – click to download
  • Calculators
  • Materials for each lab group
    • Water bottle
    • 1 styrofoam cup
    • 3 plastic cups
    • Variety of straws (jumbo, regular, coffee)
    • Various art supplies: scissors, tape, rubber bands, paper clips, rulers

Module 4: Movement

Movement

Lesson 10 – Up Up and Away! Aviation Moves Us

Grade Level Content Standards for 6-8th
Subjects Physical Science, Earth Science
Duration Preparation:    30 min                         Activity:  3 class periods
Setting Classroom with internet, access to YouTube, and PowerPoint

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Understand and be able to describe how the Earth forms Jet Streams
  2. Be able to describe the role of GPS in modern Aviation navigation
  3. Learn to read and interpret an airspace sector diagram
  4. Be able to use math to analyze flight conflicts and resolve the conflicts by changing the aircraft speed and/or routes to increase safety

Activity Summary

In this lesson, students will be introduced to aviation and the impact of GPS upon the future of flight. In addition to some history on the development of flight, students will learn about the various factors that influence safe aviation practices and navigation considerations.  Students will view an Air Traffic Control simulation tool to utilize the information presented to resolve flight conflict problems presented.  Also, students will be presented with an overview of the FAA NextGen systems being implemented to modernize aviation using GPS and other technologies that enhance safety, timeliness, and efficiencies for passengers and business.  

Materials



Lesson 11 – Networks of Power: Energy and Information!

Grade Level Content Standards for 6-8th
Subjects Technology & Physical Science
Duration Preparation:    30 min                         Activity:  5 class periods
Setting Classroom with internet, access to YouTube, and PowerPoint

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Understand how public electricity systems work
  2. Understand how the internet and telecommunication systems works
  3. Be able to describe how the internet transfers information
  4. Be able to describe why GPS timing is essential for managing these systems

Activity Summary

In this lesson, students will examine the movement of energy and information through networks, specifically the electric grids and the internet. Students will engage in energy and power grid activities as well as a telecommunications systems activity. Students will learn how these systems maximize the use of a network that has limited to no storage capacity – requiring accurate timing for optimization and reliability.  This leads to understanding the importance of GPS satellite signals and the service it provides to synchronize decentralized networks worldwide.

Materials



Lesson 12 – Global Supply Chain: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!

Grade Level Content Standards for 8th
Subjects Technology, Engineering, Geography, Business
Duration Preparation:    30 min                         Activity:  5 class periods
Setting Classroom with internet, access to YouTube, and PowerPoint

Objectives:

In this lesson students will

  1. Understand the different modes of transportation.
  2. Be able to describe intermodal transportation.
  3. Understand the sheer volume of goods and products shipped around the world
  4. Understand how geospatial technologies help with planning and achieving efficiency in the Global Supply Chain
  5. Analyze a product’s route.
  6. Understand the careers involved in logistics

 

Activity Summary

In this lesson, students will examine some of the social, economic, environmental and technology factors affecting the movement of goods and products around the world. This lesson will exam various logistics involved in moving products from point of origin to distribution center or from warehouse to retailer.  Students will develop an understanding of how GIS/GPS systems are used in managing and planning for moving products as well as how these technologies are used to save fuel.

Materials

  • Poster board
  • Rulers
  • Drawing materials
  • Mystery bag with a variety of products that are delivered for consumption
  • Marine vessel location website – click here to view