Hacking STEM Lessons & Hands-On Activities Build affordable inquiry and project-based activities to visualize data across science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum. Middle school standards-based lesson plans written by teachers for teachers.

Hacking STEM Lessons & Hands-On Activities

Build affordable inquiry and project-based activities to visualize data across science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum. Middle school standards-based lesson plans written by teachers for teachers.

Lesson Plans, They’re Free!

Image of a robotic hand with a circular background

Building Machines that Emulate Humans


Students build robotic models from cardboard and straws to understand the anatomy and biomechanics of the human hand. Then, they conduct trials visualizing data in Excel to generate new ideas for improving it’s performance.

Make a Robotic Hand

Image of a seismograph with a circular background

Using Computational Thinking to Understand Earthquakes


Students build a seismograph to visualize earthquake data and explore modern engineering techniques used to mitigate earthquake damage. Then, they engage in an Excel big data activity to understand plate tectonics.

Make a Seismograph
Image of a windmill with a circular background

Increasing Power Through Design


Students build a windmill and a wind turbine and measure its capacity to lift weight. Then they engage in a blade design challenge to achieve maximum power output. The results are visualized and analyzed in Excel.

Make a windmill
Image of a anemometer with a circular background

Analyzing Wind Speed with Anemometers


Students build anemometers from everyday objects and use them to measure wind speed. Then, they add a motor to their model to simulate wind speeds around the world using a customized Excel workbook.

Make an anemometer
new lesson

Building Machines that Emulate Humans


Students build a sensor that measures the flexion and extension of a finger to learn about the anatomy of a human hand. Next, they assemble a cardboard glove and attach multiple sensors to enable visualizing how the bones work together. Then, they engineer a robotic hand that can be controlled by their glove to complete a set of tasks. Finally, they generate ideas to improve the design and performance of the hand and their glove.

21st century technical skills applied in these activities include:

Image showing the skills covered in the lesson - Mechanical, electrical and software engineering and data science
Make a Robotic Hand

Hacking STEM is made possible by a partnership between the Education Workshop, Hack for Good and the Microsoft Garage

What is the Education Workshop?

A small incubation team inside of Microsoft that focuses on developing next generation hardware, software, and services for K-12 education. Our goal is to support teachers building inquiry and project-based activities that embed computational and design thinking into existing middle school curriculum. We want to democratize STEM for learners and demonstrate how all schools can provide affordable opportunities to bring ‘making’ and 21st century technical skills to the classroom. Hacking STEM was originally prototyped by the Education Workshop as a Hack For Good during Microsoft’s 2016 //Oneweek Hackathon. Our ‘hacked’ version of Excel brings to life the fundamentals of science, opens the emerging world of IOT to the classroom and helps educators meet the NGSS and ISTE standards for data science.

Need help? Have questions?

hackstem@microsoft.com Click here to navigate through to Microsoft's Hacking STEM Twitter page. @hacking_STEM

Also brought to you by

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Hack for Good

Hack for Good is the community of employees who want to use their technical and business hacking skills to help solve the world's greatest societal problems. The goal is to foster a community that will collaborate, create and build solutions that will empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Microsoft philanthropies
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The Microsoft Garage

The Microsoft Garage "Ship Channel" is Microsoft's official outlet for experimental projects from small teams across the company to test a hypothesis, receive early customer feedback, and determine product market fit. The Garage provides expert guidance and a lightweight release process to help teams get their experiments out quickly.

Microsoft Garage