Net results: what can social media offer STEM teachers? Inspire article
Can social media be a useful resource for teachers? We think so. Read on for some tips on getting involved and finding inspiring STEM education groups, creators, and content.
At Science in School, we aim to support STEM teachers by providing inspiring resources, and we also want to support teachers and other educators in sharing their expertise and creative teaching ideas with the wider STEM teaching community. Additionally, when we find good-quality free teaching resources, we promote these by featuring them in articles, adding them to the article resource sections, or posting them on social media. Which brings us to the theme of this article; there are many excellent free STEM teaching resources available and enthusiastic educators sharing their inspiring ideas, and social media can be a great place to find them.
Social media are technologies that allow users to share media, resources, ideas, and commentary, and, at the same time, to create networks and communities based on shared interests. There are many STEM teaching communities where teachers can discuss topics of interest and mention tips and resources. You can also take inspiration from creators who showcase ideas in visually engaging ways, as well as using social media networks and features to discover associations, training days, conferences, and events.
To help newcomers understand what social media can offer teachers and how to navigate the bewildering array of content, the first section of this article will give an overview of the most used social media platforms, some relevant groups, and some creators that we think are worth getting to know to start you off. If you are already an active social media user, you can skip to the final section to find out more about our communities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Have you ever seen a blue cow? A blue apple? Or a blue tree? Blue is rare in nature, so why are some plants and animals blue? 💙— Science in School (@SciInSchool) December 19, 2022
Let’s find out with this article by @ottavia38405797 https://t.co/To31DO1xSq#SciComm pic.twitter.com/BZJA9kN477
Pick your tribe
There are many social media platforms (many more than those discussed below) with different purposes, demographics, and usability. Each has its own rules and communities; you can try a few before deciding which work best for you.
Facebook is a ‘closed’ platform, where you mostly follow your ‘friends’ and share news and pictures with them.
It also lets you join ‘groups’, closed communities of people with similar interests, for example, jobs, nationalities, hobbies and countries – sometimes cities – of residence. You can use the search bar to find groups of interest. There are many teachers’ groups to choose from according to the subject you teach, the age of your students, and the language you prefer. Facebook groups make it easy to find the content you’re interested in, participate in relevant discussions, and share your own content with likeminded people.
You can take a look at Europe-wide Facebook groups like “Teachers from Europe” or the official ScientiX Facebook group “Science Teachers in Europe”, but there should also be more local groups in your own language.
Although certain recent developments have left some people questioning the future of Twitter, it is currently still the number one platform for quick, snappy content. On a fast-paced platform like this, a good way to find specific content is through searching for ‘hashtags’, such as #teacherTwitter, #eduTwitter, #STEMTeacher, and #STEMEducation.
Twitter also lets you follow (and create) lists of interests that you can monitor and check on regularly, like “STEM education projects”. Check out our lists: “Europe STEM education”, which includes Europe-wide STEM education projects, and “STEM Educators”, which collects some creators we particularly like. Some, like Bob Worley and Dr Adrian Allan, have also written fantastic articles for Science in School. Feel free to recommend excellent English-speaking creators who we might want to add to the list!
If visual is your language, then you cannot forget Instagram. Here, images and short videos (called reels) are an engaging way to share your passion for science and inspire other teachers, as well as to find teaching inspiration.
A wonderful example is Emilia Angelillo (@emilia.science), a school science technician in Cambridge, who makes short and impactful videos with experiments that you can replicate in the classroom, including some fantastic demonstrations of Science in School articles. In addition to teachers, many enthusiastic scientists share engaging content aimed at school students or the general public. For example, Janelle Letzen, PhD (@the_sushi_scientist), a postdoctoral researcher at John Hopkins University, explains (neuro)science with incredible sushi models!
And how can we forget TikTok? If you feel out of your depth just reading the name, you’re not the only one. However, this is where many of your students hang out, and you could help them navigate it and recommend fun educational creators. Check out this list of Educational TikTok accounts, which was last updated in December 2022.
The Science in School community
At Science in School, we are happy to be part of these communities. For us, social media is crucial for keeping up to date on conferences and events in the field of STEM education. We also share a lot of information: if you follow us, you’ll be kept up to date on any new educational activities, resources, or events (like training days) from our funders, the organisations that make up EIROforum, as well as any other events or resources that we think could be interesting for STEM teachers. We use social media to share articles from the newly published issues but we also highlight still-relevant articles from our archive, in particular, articles relating to international celebrations (e.g., World Cleanup Day or Computer Science Education Week).
We are always happy to see teachers sharing any Science in School articles they find useful; our authors put so much effort into these resources and we’d love for them to be available to as many teachers as possible. Of course, if you’ve written an article for Science in School, sharing it with your social media networks can be a good way to get it seen. We also very much encourage teachers to use our articles as inspiration for video content or developing new ideas. In addition, you can use social media to let us know about individuals, groups, or projects that provide high-quality free STEM teaching resources, and we may be able to promote them or recommend them in our article resources.
Finally, it’s very important to us that our content is useful to teachers, and while you can always get in touch by email, social media can be a quick and easy way to let us know what you think. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, suggestions, or requests, or just to tell us when there is something particularly liked or feel could be improved. Aside from that, it’s always wonderful to see how teachers are using our articles, so please do tag us if you post on social media about trying any of our classroom activities.