Educators can look to digital resources to spark students' curiosity and motivate them to engage with instruction.

5 digital resources to inspire curiosity and engage students

Educators can look to digital resources to spark students' curiosity and motivate them to engage with instruction

Key points:

I have had the pleasure to serve as an educator in Wisconsin’s Verona Area School District for over 30 years. During that time, I have enjoyed working with the staff, students, parents, and community members to thoughtfully integrate technology into the classrooms. In 1995, I became the Educational Technology Coach for the Verona Area High School.

As the Educational Technology Coach, I support the classroom teachers I serve by modeling innovative technology strategies, co-planning lessons, co-teaching, curating research and resources, analyzing student usage data, and many other strategies.  Often, my colleagues will come to me with requests for resources to overcome a certain classroom issue, and like in many school systems, among the biggest issues right now is a lack of student engagement.

Post-pandemic, educators in my district and those I connect with as both an Apple Distinguished Educator and as a Discovery Educator Network STAR report that there has been a decline in student engagement. As educators, it is incumbent upon us to spark students’ curiosity so that they will engage with instruction. When colleagues ask me the best tools for inspiring curiosity and engaging students:

NASA: The NASA website is an invaluable resource, gaining attention recently due to the excitement surrounding events like the solar eclipse. Offering an extensive array of lesson plans, activities, and educational materials, NASA covers a diverse range of STEM topics including space exploration, earth science, and aeronautics. Moreover, it provides an abundance of opportunities to engage and ignite student curiosity. And as an educator, if you love to tweet and share information on social media, you might be interested in the program NASA offers called “NASA Social” (formerly known as NASA Tweetup) where social media users, including educators, can apply to attend and cover NASA events, including space launches, through various social media platforms such as Twitter.  

Discovery Education: Through the Discovery Education Experience product, Discovery Education offers hundreds of ready-made lessons, quizzes, activity calendars, and ready-to-use resources that use features such as closed captioning, immersive reader, and self-paced activities. Teachers love these resources and rely on the components of the activities to build background knowledge, provide accessible content, and spark curiosity. Students love them because they are interesting and engaging. A standout feature is their virtual field trips, partnering with iconic companies worldwide to provide behind-the-scenes access to fascinating locations. The Amazon Robotics: Fulfillment Center Virtual Career Tour is my favorite. You go behind the scenes to learn how Amazon picks, packs, and ships orders from their fulfillment centers. I was so impressed with this virtual field trip that I scheduled a tour at a local fulfillment center. It was incredible. Another fantastic virtual field trip is “Build the Change – Lego Virtual Field Trip.” After watching this VFT, our 3rd grade students teamed up with our high school robotics class to learn, play, and have some fun. When the classes got together, the 3rd grade students were ready to play and be inspired as high school students shared how they build robots, cars, rockets, and more. 

Google Arts and Culture: I have been a fan of Google Arts and Culture for years. With over 1,600 experiments and counting, what is not to love about this free site? In addition to the extensive collection of artworks and cultural artifacts, it offers some pretty cool immersive experiences. Some of my favorites include Blob Opera, a fun and creative tool where you can experiment and create music while learning how AI generates and synthesizes vocals. There’s also 3D Pottery, where you can virtually recreate pottery from different cultures and time periods. With Kandinsky Music, you can explore art while experimenting with color and emotions. Lastly, with the Art Coloring Book, you get to pick a famous piece of artwork and color it using the colors of your choice. Coloring can be a really fun, creative, and relaxing activity. When finished, you can download and share your artwork on social media or print it. These are just a few of my favorites. Now, there are over 1,500 more experiments waiting for you and your students to explore, along with a wide variety of other resources.

Canva for Education: Canva is a graphic design platform that offers a special version for educators and students. It provides templates and tools for creating visually appealing presentations, posters, infographics, and other visual materials for classroom projects and assignments. Canva is all the craze if you are looking for fun, easy, and creative ways to engage students with digital media. With over 420,000 templates, 75 million stock images, 3,000 fonts, and now access to over half a million popular song tracks, it is easy to get creative with posters, flyers, infographics, presentations, newsletters, videos, and social media posts, to name a few.  Any educator or students can have access to the full version of Canva for free.  After creating your account, you can go to to verify your account.

Everyone Can Create: The free curriculum by Apple provides teachers and students with inspiration, allowing them to explore creativity in various ways. The downloadable books cover a range of projects, offering examples and tutorials using apps and tools that enable anyone to explore their creative side. Additionally, there are teacher guides and student guides available to assist in getting started. Some of the key apps featured in the curriculum include: GarageBand, a music creation app where you can compose, record, and edit your own music tracks; iMovie, a video editing app where you can edit movies and trailers using video clips, photos, music, and special effects; Clips, a video editing and social media app that allows you to create short video clips with animated captions, stickers, filters, and music; and Swift Playgrounds, an app that teaches the fundamentals of coding through interactive puzzles and challenges. Projects range from recording a podcast, publishing a storybook, and creating green screen effects. One of my favorite projects from the curriculum is creating pop art with the photo app. It’s a fun and easy way to encourage students to be creative with photos they take. You’ll be amazed at how engaged your students will be when provided with opportunities from this curriculum.

These are just a few of the great edtech resources available to educators today.  While there are many more possible resources to consider, the general availability of these resources to educators nationwide make these among the simplest to integrate into learning. They are easy to use, and your students will truly be excited to begin to use these. Give them a try today!

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