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Middle School | STEM

3 Top Middle School STEM Curriculum Options

September 14th, 2023 | 5 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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STEM subjects are a critical part of a comprehensive education. But as a middle school educator, you could be unsure about choosing the right curriculum for your students.

How do you find resources that are both up-to-date and age-appropriate for your students?

Thankfully, there are many high-quality curriculum resources available for you to choose from.

In this article, you'll find three of the best middle school STEM curriculum options:

  1. PLTW Gateway Middle School STEM Curriculum
  2. Discovery Education STEM Curriculum
  3. STEM:IT Middle School

After reading, you'll have a more complete picture of the materials available so you can decide what's best for your program.

1. PTLW Gateway Middle School STEM Curriculum

Project Lead the Way (PTLW) is a non-profit organization that provides career readiness resources to classrooms across the United States. They focus on providing students with learning experiences and essential skills they'll need for college and career success.

The PTLW Gateway Middle School STEM Curriculum is intended to introduce learners in grades 6-8 to career pathways in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Using team-based problem-solving projects and exercises, PTLW Gateway strives to help learners make connections to real-life problems and opportunities.

PTLW Gateway includes ten units designed to introduce students to different STEM subjects:

  1. Design and Modeling
  2. Automation and Robotics
  3. App Creators
  4. Computer Science for Innovators and Makers
  5. Energy and the Environment
  6. Flight and Space
  7. Science of Technology
  8. Magic of Electrons
  9. Green Architecture
  10. Medical Detectives

Each unit includes projects and activities "connected" to various educational standards. These connections reflect exercises that complete tasks outlined in one or sets of standards, but should not be considered a standards alignment.

How Much Does This Curriculum Cost, and Who Is It For?

Although Project Lead the Way is a non-profit organization, its curriculum resources aren't available for free.

To access the curriculum, each participating school must pay an annual participation fee of $950. In addition, programs can expect to pay $750 to $1200 per teacher for professional development necessary to implement the curriculum. Virtual and in-person professional development options are available.

Overall, PTLW Gateway is a great STEM curriculum option for programs willing to implement the entire Project Lead the Way framework and have the time and resources to set up and implement the program properly.

It isn't a good fit for programs that prefer a solution you can integrate without special training or teachers looking for a solution for a single classroom.

2. Discovery Education STEM Curriculum

Discovery Education is an education technology and curriculum company that shares branding with its former parent company, Discovery Channel. Discovery Education provides curriculum resources for various subject areas, including STEM.

The Discovery Education STEM curriculum is designed to provide learners with an interactive learning experience that teachers can implement through daily instructional lessons. They offer curriculum for several subjects related to STEM, including:

  • STEM Connect
  • Science
  • Math
  • Coding

In particular, the STEM Connect curriculum is designed around the concepts of "communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking" and features interactive lessons for each grade level, including middle school.

An additional benefit of Discovery Education resources is that you can integrate them with different Learning Management Systems to create a more cohesive learning experience.

How Much Does This Curriculum Cost, and Who Is It For?

Discovery Education sells its STEM curriculum on a subscription basis. When you subscribe, you can receive access to the STEM Connect, Coding, Math, Science, and other curriculum packs. The specific content you can use will depend on the type of subscription you purchase.

Discovery Education does not share pricing information on its website, so you will need to contact the sales department directly to figure out how much it will cost to purchase resources for your program.

Overall, Discovery Education can provide teachers with integrated, interactive learning materials for various grade levels, including middle school. It's a good fit for teachers who want interactive content to add to their lessons, including the benefits of school technology integration.

However, it's not for teachers looking for just a few STEM projects and activities for their program or who want a comprehensive CTE curriculum that includes subjects beyond science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

3. STEM:IT Middle School

STEM Fuse is a provider of digital curriculum solutions for students in grades K-12. As their name suggests, they offer several different courses in STEM subjects, but also provide curriculum for other areas like business, health science, and reading.

For students in grades 6-8, STEM Fuse created STEM:IT Middle School, a curriculum of STEM and STEAM challenges connected to core subject areas. Each challenge relates to a different academic subject:

  • Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources
  • Business
  • English Language Arts
  • Family and Consumer Sciences and Health
  • Fine Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Electronics, Science, and Engineering

In total, there are 64 different challenges, including 15 in the area of Electronics, Science, and Engineering. The curriculum also includes teacher resources like a topic guide and a materials catalog. With their purchase, educators receive an unlimited number of student seats to go along with over 300 hours of curriculum.

How Much Does This Curriculum Cost, and Who Is It For?

Unlike other curriculum options, STEM:IT Middle School is available for a one-time purchase of $2000. This price includes all of the learning challenges and resources for this particular package, but not for other curriculum options available from STEM Fuse.

STEM:IT Middle School is an attractive option for teachers looking to integrate STEM into a wide range of subject areas, as there are challenges for almost every subject area taught in grades 6-8.

However, since the curriculum works best when integrated with other subject areas, these materials might not be ideal if you teach a dedicated STEM course. 

Likewise, teachers who only cover one or two subject areas may use only a smaller portion of the curriculum. These teachers may benefit from a more focused and dedicated STEM curriculum.

Teach STEM with a Comprehensive Middle School CTE Curriculum

Deciding on the best middle school STEM curriculum for your program can be challenging. After all, choosing the right resources can make all the difference between your students mastering core concepts in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology or falling behind their peers.

If you choose any of the curriculum options in this article, you'll be able to provide your students with new resources that are both up-to-date and age-appropriate.

However, if you want to teach STEM concepts while introducing students to concepts like career discovery and digital citizenship, consider the Middle School Digital Literacy and Career Exploration package from iCEV.

With this curriculum package, you'll be equipped to teach students in 12 multimedia courses, including Exploring STEM, Career Readiness, and more:

Discover the Middle School Curriculum