The Benefits of Teaching High School STEM through Storytelling

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As a science educator, I’m all about teaching science through story. Even homeschooling high school STEM gives us amazing opportunities to seek out the stories and teach the science through the story. The Benefits of Teaching High School STEM through Storytelling will detail why we use story to teach science and I’ll introduce you to two fabulous books to help you get started.

Teen sitting on a sofa reading a book and peeking over the top of the book

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of the two book series, Discovering Life’s Story and compensated for my time in writing this review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

In fact, our youngest has been taught STEM through story for just about all of his schooling. He graduates next week from our homeschool and is headed for more self-education in this realm. The stories of the people along the way inspired him and helped him to learn the mathematical and scientific knowledge he craves.

So, let’s talk about what the looks like and I can’t wait to share some amazing new books that are perfect for the job!

What Makes a Good Book for Teaching Science?

The first question you might be asking is how do I know what makes a good story book for teaching science?

Here are a few things I look for:

  • Written by someone devoted to the topic- these are the best kind of book for obvious reasons
  • Shares science through storytelling that focuses on the science you want to learn or teach
  • Draws you into the topic- the story just keeps leading you along to the good stuff within
  • Approaches the concept from a novel point of view- whether it’s about a person behind the science or something else fun concerning the topic
  • Weaves historical context into the concept
  • Highlights the people behind the science- this is a favorite if you have quirky/differently wired teens because they love to learn about people like them.

Benefits of Using Storytelling to Teach High School Science

an open book on top of an open notebook with microscope drawings of onion cells

So, how does using storytelling in STEM instruction, even in high school, benefit your teens?

  • Appeals to teens who don’t think science is their jam- it’s like science in disguise
  • Goes beyond the text book to the people and the time in which the scientific concept was emerging
  • Inserts the humanity into the science- especially important when people often think that science is not human focused
  • Allows quirky teens to see themselves in the people behind the science- which is so good for them considering neurodiverse young people are often betrayed negatively in stories.
  • Gives another anchor point in teaching science- our oldest’s final assignment in biology was a paper written to compare the plague with Ebola. Think creatively about how your different teens can interact with the material in a way that uses their strengths.

Introducing Discovering Life’s Story

teen behind a book with the title Discovery Life's Story Volume II

I just love it when a great author adds to their repertoire of good books!

Joyce Hakim has written several good non-fiction series for students. You might be familiar with The History of US which is all United States History from landing on North American soil to more modern times.

She also wrote The Story of Science in three volumes. I love this series too!

Discovering Life’s Story is a two book series that investigates life science from ancient to modern times.

The first volume, titled, Biology’s Beginnings, tells the story of ancient to modern people discovering the science of life.

  • Details foundational life science- a history of the science through the people and their stories from ancient times through modern biological practices
  • Hear stories about various biological crises like The Plague, tobacco disease, and smallpox outbreaks in the Americas
  • Tells about the major advancements in biology like the invention of the microscope, pasteurization, and the beginning of categorizing all life on the planet
  • Shares highlights throughout on people that may not be as well known who contributed to the evolution of the life sciences

The second volume is called, The Evolution of an Idea, and it begins with the Age of Enlightenment.

This book focuses on how the collective mindset on scientific begins to change.

  • Details the stories about how the established ideas were replaced by new discoveries and ways of thinking
  • Weave the stories in and out of what’s happening in the world, all around the world
  • Discusses how these milestones were received by the establishment
  • Uses a historical format to share with readers the emerging sciences like paleontology and evolution

Confession: as a biologist, Linnaeus and his system of classification is one of my all time favorite topics to this day!

Why Teach High School Science with Good Books?

an open book with a picture Gregor Mendel on it on top of a picture book about Gregor Mendel

Shouldn’t we be using text books?

Of course, high school science textbooks are full of good information and they lay a sort of foundation for the content in any science course.

It’s worth the effort to add meaning with storytelling to your high school STEM courses.

More on Using Storytelling to Teach High School Science

tall stack of books on a wood floor in front of a book case blurred in the background with the words The Big List of Awesome Living Books for Homeschooling Science

We’ve been teaching and learning science with storytelling for a long time.

In fact, that’s how our youngest student learned best even all the way through high school.

Here’s a look at some ways we’ve done that and what we’ve used.

Take Our Microscope Course with Discovering Life’s Story!

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