The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck and popularized in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In recent years, many schools and educators have started using Dweck’s theories to inform how they teach students.
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,” writes Dweck.
Students who embrace growth mindsets—the belief that they can learn more or become smarter if they work hard and persevere—may learn more, learn it more quickly, and view challenges and failures as opportunities to improve their learning and skills.
STEM Challenges are all about this idea of working hard and persevering. In the course of doing a STEM Challenge, students see their failures as opportunities to improve their learning and skill at that particular challenge.
As I approach the topic of Growth Mindset with my students, I use a pretty simple lab. Students must build a flashlight, but there's a catch, they must do it one piece at a time and no one student can do two parts back to back.
Each group needs a disassembled flashlight (I get the mini flashlights from the Dollar Tree) with batteries. You will need to take it apart into as many pieces as possible. Students need to work together to build the flashlight in the fastest time. While it seems easy, this lab takes students awhile to figure out, then even longer to get a pretty fast time. The challenge of working together to build it, with each student doing different parts, is a tough one.
You can get the flashlight lab here. Ready to open the world of growth mindset to your students?