Full STEAM Ahead!

Friday, April 11, 2014

 Confession: I am a secret geek.  I have always loved science, and  I have taken a strong interest in STEM initiatives {well, maybe not the math so much}.  I ran a LEGOROBOTICS club for 3rd and 4th graders at my old school.  Let me tell you, it.got.me.HOOKED.  I was shocked at the minimal integration of the STEM initiatives into current curriculum.  I mean, its a no brainer! Not to sound like Newsweek magazine but out of 65 nations, America ranked 39th in science and math.  No bueno! It is crucial that we expose our little ones to these concepts and ways of thinking now so we are not playing "catch up" later

I was fortunate enough to receive a grant to create a STEAM program for first grade last summer.  {Side Note: our school incorporates The Arts so rather than STEM, we use the acronym STEAM– science, technology engineering, The Arts, math}.  

The program had two phases: Phase One: Technology integration through writing code and computer programming.  Yes, my firsties wrote code and computer programming!  Phase Two: Engineering integration through the fabulously engaging and interactive LEGO Education Kits.  These are just about the best thing to happen to elementary STEM initiatives since sliced bread.  The pinnacle of my STEAM program is that teachers are merely guides who facilitate free exploration and discovery using the tools at hand.  I use "questioning" strategies and answer all questions with a question to help direct the student to his or her answer.  The amount of critical thinking and problem solving that has occurred during these lessons is UNBELIEVABLE.  

We are now in Phase Two of our STEAM program.  We have been using the LEGO Education Early Learning Simple Machines DUPLO Kits.  The kids go NUTS for them!  We are up to the third discovery.  Here are some snapshots from the first discovery: making a pinwheel. 

The kiddos loved this activity sooo much that I canceled our afternoon special and we did a second session in the afternoon! Below are pictures from the making a spinning top activity.  We did a class-wide competition to see which team's tops could spin the longest! 

Testing them out pre-students... 

A "Knock-Out" Battle! 

 Class-wide competition!  

That about wraps up this edition of "Full STEAM Ahead!".  I will do a series of STEAM-related posts detailing the many activities we covered during Phase One and Phase Two.  Enjoy, geeks! 

ps- many thanks to Krista Wallden for the smileys to cover my littles' faces!  

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