Energy Technology and Science Industries Lesson Plan: STEM Careers of the Future

Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 6-12, students will analyze a slideshow of the 10 best careers of the future. Students will use BrainPOP and other internet resources to research one of these careers, or design their own career based upon the most pressing 21st century needs identified in the slideshow. Each student will create an individual slide and description based on his or her selected career to create a collaborative slideshow about STEM careers of the future.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Analyze and discuss a slideshow of the 10 best careers of the future.
  2. Use BrainPOP and other internet resources to research one of these careers, or design their own career based upon the most pressing 21st century needs identified in the slideshow.
  3. Create an individual slide and description based on his or her selected career to create a collaborative slideshow about STEM careers of the future.

Materials:

  • Interactive whiteboard (or just an LCD projector)
  • Internet and BrainPOP access
  • Computers for students to use

Preparation:

Preview the movie topics in BrainPOP's Engineering and Technology section, particularly the movies in the Energy Technology, Transportation, and Science and Industry units. You will also need to preview the 10 Best Jobs of the Future slideshow. Prepare any note-taking guides, project guidelines, and slideshow tools that you would like students to use during the course of the lesson.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Project the Popular Science slideshow called 10 Best Jobs of the Future. Talk about each job as you click through the slideshow. Have a student volunteer create a list of the needs that these jobs will meet, and keep the list visible for students during their project.
  2. Guide students to understand that a large percentage of 21st century jobs have not yet been invented. Ask students how researchers might have come up with these job titles and descriptions. How do they know we will one day need animal migration engineers, mind-reading technologists, or galactic architects? Facilitate a conversation about how jobs are created out of identified needs throughout the world.
  3. Ask students if they would be interested in pioneering the field for any of the careers they just learned about. Have them to turn and talk with a partner, and then write down one career from the slideshow. You may want to give students the option of creating their own future job and job title related to the needs researchers tell us we'll encounter later in the 21st century. Refer students to the list created by the class during the slideshow.
  4. Ask students what school subjects they think they would need to excel at in order to one day be involved in these careers of the future. Guide students to see the connection to STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and math.
  5. Tell students they will be creating a class slideshow about future careers. Each student (or pair of students) will create one slide with a student-generated image (or video), a job description, an explanation of why the job is needed, and a list of the skills/training that would be useful in obtaining the job.
  6. Show students the list of engineering and technology movie topics available in BrainPOP and inform them that this will be the starting place for their research. Which topics are most closely related to the field or career they'd like to learn more about?
  7. Have students select 2-4 movies and explore the related FYI features. You may want to provide a form for note-taking. Remind students to make note of any information that would be helpful to them in creating their slide and description.
  8. Challenge students to conduct further research on the internet. The Stem Career Website might be a useful tool. Encourage students to get in touch with people who are working in fields related to the one they are researching--they may want to conduct a Skype interview to learn more about the career's potential and the realities of working within the field.
  9. Provide time in class or at home for students to create their slide and description. They may want to use digital drawing tools to create the image, or take a photograph. Have students upload their image and copy and paste their description into a class Google Presentation or other collaborative tool for creating slideshows.
  10. When the slideshow is assembled, show it to the class and allow each student to present his or her slide. Facilitate a discussion about the inter-relatedness of many of the career paths, and help students make connections to things they are currently studying in school.
  11. Encourage students to self-reflect on the assignment and what they learned about future careers in STEM fields. You may want to make the slideshow available on your class or school website so that family and community members can view and comment on it.