Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Lesson Plans

STEM Student Reporting Labs: The path to discovery

March 29, 2019

Full Lesson


Directions: Read the summary, watch the videos and answer the discussion questions below. You may want to turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function.

Summary: The NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs’ series, “STEM: How We Achieve Our Goals” focuses on researchers who make their ideas a reality.

In the video, “Diversity and youth are making all the difference in medical research” above, Brian Hoffman, an assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, exposes his high school students to medical research. Students interested in the medical field get first-hand experience working in a lab, an opportunity that Hoffman did not receive until his sophomore year of college.

“I ended up switching what I was going to do in my career because of that,” he said. Introducing young students to medicine before they enter college is also another way to improve diversity in the STEM fields.

One way to encourage more students to enter the field is to increase the number of STEM educators. Despite STEM being a growing field, very few people go into STEM education, according to Kate Cook Witt, an assistant professor at Thomas College, who shares her thoughts in the SRL video, “Solving the science teacher shortage.”

“Often, teaching science is scary to elementary school teachers and is something that they are not really excited to do. So my work is centered around how we help them teach it effectively,” said Witt.

STEM education is shifting away from simply teaching and learning about science to helping students generate scientific ideas.

Bronwyn Lyons is a pharmacy teacher at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona. In the video, “Pharmacy class: a new way to build STEM skills and career options” Lyons took on the new program at her school, fulfilling an interest that she had for a long time.

“This class changes the way I look at my students because it challenges me to teach them something different and teach math and science in a different method and get involved in something that they will actually use after high school.” she says.

Discussion questions:

1) Essential question: How can schools make STEM relevant to more students?

2) What makes stories like Brian Hoffman’s inspiring?

3) Were you aware of the STEM teacher shortage? How bad is the shortage? Are there certain parts of the country where the shortage is more significant than other parts of the country? How could you find out more?

4) Media literacy: Why do you think Student Reporting Labs, NewsHour’s youth journalism program, focuses specifically on STEM?

Extension activities:

What is Student Reporting Labs (SRL)? SRL is NewsHour’s youth journalism program. Students, teacher advisors and NewsHour producers all work together to create transformative educational experiences that inspire youth to find their voice and engage with their communities. Students learn everything from story pitches and script-writing to rough cuts and final videos. Now in over 150 schools, SRL produces special projects that air in schools, on PBS local stations and even on NewsHour’s national broadcast.

To watch more SRL videos from the “STEM: How We Achieve Our Goals” series, click here.

Bridgette Adu-Wadier contributed today’s Daily News Story and Extra’s Vic Pasquantonio edited. Bridgette interns with NewsHour Classroom and is a sophomore at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia.

SRL credits:

“Diversity and youth are making all the difference in medical research” was produced by Mitch Kraemer, Maximilian Hofbauer, Grace Garity, Molly Pelchat, Sidney Scherwinski, Wiesley Graeve, Kayla Wells, Johana Felton, and Haley Gross at High School of Health in Wales, WI. Instruction provided by STEM SRL Connected Educator Margaret Mulqueen.

“Solving the science teacher shortage” was produced by Jasmine Lambert and Hailey Moore at Mid-Maine Technical Center High School in Waterville, Maine. Instruction provided by STEM SRL Connected Educator David Boardman.

“Pharmacy class: a new way to build STEM skills and career options” was produced by Maurice Holloway at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, AZ. Instruction provided by STEM SRL Connected Educator Heather Jancoski.

William Swift, SRL’s STEM and health coordinating producer, has a passion for science and all things STEM and Health that started as a biology major at the Colorado College, where he focused on ecology, environmental science and theater. William has worked in feature films in Hollywood as well as television in Los Angeles and DC for the Cousteau Society, National Geographic Television, ABC/Kane Productions Int’l., NBC, Discovery and the Teaching Company. William works directly with over 30 schools nationwide helping them learn how to find, research, develop, and execute high quality video student reporting stories on STEM and Health topics.

For monthly updates containing teacher resources on Election 2020, click here. Sign up for short education highlights from the PBS NewsHour here.

You may have heard the term “Student Voice” in school or over social media. What does “Student Voice” mean to you? If you think you have a good idea for an opinion piece, consider sending a pitch to NewsHour Classroom’s Student Voice blog. The blog is full of powerful, original pieces by students. Write Victoria Pasquantonio at We’d love to hear from you!