Colleen Hinrichsen

The Future Goals – Hockey Scholar program is more than just fun, online lessons to help students learn and practice math and science skills. These free STEM activities are flexible to implement, and they help students connect their learning to real-world scenarios. For me, the program naturally created a school-wide theme..

Here are five STEM classroom ideas that we used along with Hockey Scholar:

  1. School-Wide Stanley Cup
    Future Goals – Hockey Scholar is so realistic and fun for students that it really does not require an outside incentive. It gives students a virtual trophy when they complete each section, and they can earn their own virtual Stanley Cup for finishing all the sections. However, some students have more excitement about incentives outside the virtual world.In addition to printing the certificates, I created a floor-to-ceiling-size Stanley Cup, and students received their names on the cup for finishing all sections in Hockey Scholar. I focused on math for 5th grade and science for 6th grade, as those were the grade levels in my building.Parents heard about the building-wide Stanley Cup and offered to donate prizes to students who completed the program. We collected exciting prizes like Penguins jerseys, hockey sticks, gift cards, bobbleheads, as well as non-hockey prizes. With over 500 students in the building, I ended up giving each student a raffle ticket when they added their name to the Cup, so those larger prizes were raffled off. Everything was donated to us so there was no cost, and it really added an extra layer of excitement for students!
  2. Cross-Curricular Collaboration
    I love everything about Future Goals – Hockey Scholar, but I live in the reality where time is limited. It is easy to implement the online portion of the program. There is no preparation or materials, and its free lessons align to standards really well. Review for state testing is one of the biggest justifications for using this program among teachers I know. However, some of my favorite parts of the program are the hands-on labs, and my students agree. I knew I had to find a way to bring some of these amazing STEM classroom activities to my students. The best way for me was to reach out to teachers across different subjects. My fifth-grade math students completed the online portion in their math classrooms, but they completed the Frozen Pucks (Puck Bounce) experiment in STEAM classes with me.My sixth-grade students completed online portions with science teachers or in STEAM class, while they completed the Muscles in Motion, Speedy Senses, or Vital Signs labs in health class with our physical education teacher. A language arts teacher even used this as the main topic of an expository writing project one year. If your school wants to use Future Goals – Hockey Scholar as a theme to connect learning across the curriculum, the opportunities truly are endless.
  3. Hands-on Lab with a Twist
    As I mentioned, the hands-on labs are some of my favorite parts of this program. Unfortunately, my STEAM classes are short, 30-40 minutes (weekly), so I modified the lessons to fit my constraints. The excitement and learning outcomes were the same as the original plan.There is a beautiful Student Lab Packet provided for labs, but I preferred to go paperless. For Frozen Puck (Puck Bounce), I put everything into a Google Form, and each group completed the form as a team. During each trial, a different student recorded the data into the form while others took turns doing the “jobs” of the experiment. Another bonus of using a Google Form, was that the data was instantly in the computer rather than on individual paper packets. I was able to show students the data from all 66 groups, create graphs, and highlight examples from the conclusion explanations so students could learn from others.Another twist on this experiment was added by my students. They found that using one of their devices as a video recording device and another one of their devices to input data was a good use of their technology. They recorded a video of each puck bounce trial in slow motion. That eliminated any arguments within the group, and they could even stop the video at the highest bounce to record the most accurate measurement.Using the hands-on labs as inspiration, while modifying them to fit with our curriculum and time constraints, was the best way to make the most of these STEM resources for our students.
  4. “Upcycle a Hockey Puck” Challenge
    Many of our students and families play hockey. As I kicked off the Future Goals – Hockey Scholar program, one family asked if I could use some old pucks they were throwing away. I accepted them and created an option in my STEAM classes for students to complete the “Upcycle a Hockey Puck” challenge. The challenge ended up being so popular that we quickly ran out of pucks. The community ended up sending in buckets of old hockey pucks on a regular basis. One parent even bought us a box of pucks, just so any student could participate.Categories for this challenge included organizational, art/decorative, and mechanical. Some students worked on their projects in STEAM, some took them home, and others had time in various other classes as they finished work early.
  5. Design a Trophy
    One of my first STEM classroom ideas leads right into this last opportunity. As students passed by the school-wide Stanley Cup in the hallway each day, it created another opportunity for students to make personal connections. While many of our students are hockey fans, not everyone has an equal passion for the Stanley Cup. To help everyone relate, students were encouraged to design their own trophies. Based on individual passions, how could they create a trophy to represent all of their personal goals? My students used a free, online CAD program called Tinkercad to create designs. It was incredible to see how students combined their passions in order to represent themselves. Some of my favorites included different hobbies, such as cooking or reading, combined with sports, academics, or the arts.

These STEM classroom ideas may seem overwhelming, especially if you try to do this all yourself with every student. Implementation of Future Goals – Hockey Scholar really depends on your time and resources. When I first started using the program, I only had a few devices in my classroom. I ended up running stations– some of my students used the digital component, while others worked on the hands-on lab or one of the design challenges. I created the out-of-the-box implementation just to make any implementation possible! Many of these ideas can be an at-home extension activity or a great way to involve parent volunteers within the school. There really is no wrong way to implement these free STEM lessons when the objective is to build excitement for learning.


Colleen Hinrichsen currently teaches STEAM to second, third, and fourth grade classes as part of the weekly “specials” rotation at Mars Area Elementary. Prior to the pandemic, she also taught fifth and sixth grade STEAM (her favorite) where she implemented Future Goals: Hockey Scholar. She has also acted as a district instructional technology coach. Before she became a STEAM teacher and technology coach, she was a classroom teacher in both first grade and third grade for ten years. No matter her role, she always strives to make learning meaningful and engaging for students.