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By Amy Lupoli
Have you ever wondered what STEAM stands for? The students at F.M. Kearns certainly did, and during wonder week they found out how much fun STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) projects can be.
The week began with an all-school meeting to introduce young scientists to the fun and excitement of wondering about the world around them. Throughout the week students asked questions such as “I wonder why cats sleep all day?” and “I wonder if teeth are bones?” Many students found answers to these questions through research and the use of technology.
The week culminated with fun and exciting STEAM projects. Students became powerful thinkers and effective collaborators as they demonstrated curiosity, imagination and perseverance by creating a toothpick and marshmallow tower, animal, cave or marshmallow catapult with a given set of materials and a buddy from another class. Teams of students used phrases such as sturdy, angle, base and support beam during the construction process. Many students chose to write the steps necessary to complete the project, while others measured their towers and sequenced them from largest to smallest. As marshmallows flew through the air from tongue depressor catapults, students determined design changes to increase the flight distance of the marshmallow for the next launch.
These problem-based STEAM opportunities allowed students to take ownership of their learning in an environment that fostered creativity and innovation. Students said, “You can be creative,” “I love to do the writing,” and “This was super fun!” Teachers commented on the active engagement, creativity and ingenuity of students and how STEAM projects integrate numerous content areas.
At the conclusion of wonder week, there was only one question that students and teachers kept asking—“I wonder when we will do more STEAM projects?”
How exciting that the school district is working to provide all students with STEAM opportunities in the future through a district STEAM committee. The committee’s goal is to develop 21st century skills for success in school and beyond, in which students demonstrate curiosity, creativity, imagination and perseverance to identify and solve problems. The program provides students with problem-based, real-world learning opportunities guided by a standards-aligned cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary approach. Students collaborate and take ownership of their learning in an environment that fosters creativity and innovation. This goal certainly was accomplished during wonder week. Look for more STEAM opportunities throughout the district over the coming weeks and months.
Editor’s Note: Lupoli is K-2 math and science consulting teacher at Kearns Primary School.