The purpose of the 3-6 STEAM class is to allow students to study and understand the use of technology in several disciplines, specifically Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. The focus of the class is to allow students to work in both small groups and individually to understand how technology is used in these disciplines both now and in the future.
The students will:
This class started with a review of some of the projects from the last school year. The existing students told of coding, playing games, defining patterns and building with Legos. This provided an opportunity for the new students to understand the priorl class content and for the teacher to gauge the students’ interest in the various types of projects.
Many of the projects in the fall session involved having the students work cooperatively to solve challenges. Games like Jewel Thief and Blindfolded Scavenger Hunt were introduced. These required the each student to think as a member of a group rather than as an individual. Engineering problems, which children tackled in groups of three or four, included building the tallest structure that could hold a dollar’s worth of coins out of individual materials including paper, playing cards, paper clips, and tape. These one-day engineering projects forced each team to think quickly and to work together to solve a problem. This required interpersonal skills and out of the box thinking.
The next major course of study was designed to teach logic, planning, and visualization. Students were given a maze and cards that indicated directions; forward, turn right or turn left. Students took turns guiding staff members through the maze. Each student then created a maze and then use the cards to “program” a figure to move through the it.
In the winter session, students’ expressed an interests in topics related to air. In order to support this desire to learn, the students first studied paper airplanes, in which each student created airplanes of his or her own designs, as well following directions of published designs. By comparing the flight characteristics of these different designs, students began to formulate ideas about how the wing design affected the performance. Students experimented with different sizes to determine if the size of the airplane changed its ability to fly.
The next course of study the students engaged in was how air affects the performance of different parachute designs. Students discussed how they thought parachutes worked and endeavored to design a parachute to safely allow an egg to be dropped from the upper floor to the ground below. Students spent two class periods designing and building before testing the parachute designs. Students then reflected as to the performance of his or her parachute and how each design could be improved.
Following this, the students were encouraged to invent and build games that were powered by air. Most made variations of controlling a ball through a maze by blowing through a straw. Students took turns making mazes and even offered the games as Explore and Wonder activities to the older students.
The study of air pressure continued with an experiment in which a lit match was dropped into a bottle. Next, a hard boiled egg was placed on top of the mouth of the bottle. To the student’s amazement, the egg seemed to be sucked into the bottle once the match went out. Each student took turns explaining what he or she thought was happening. The experiment was repeated multiple times so each student had an opportunity to form a hypothesis. Once the class discussed air pressure the members used the new found knowledge to get the egg out of the bottle.
Finally, the students’ study of air led to a study of kites. Students constructed small kites using proven designs. The class spent a couple of sunny days testing the kites outdoors and making modifications. The study ended by painting a mural commemorating the kite project.
The spring session brought about a change in subjects for the students in the STEAM class. To better understand the heat of the sun the class performed many experiments using the sun as a heat source. Students used black and white pie plates filled with water to measure how the rays from the sun affected the temperature of the water. Students also learned how to harness the power of the sun to heat objects using multiple mirrors and magnifying glasses. Some students were even able to safely start small fires using only a magnifying glass. These experiments led to other topics such as color and weather.
When the weather grew warmer, students were challenged to build small boats using only aluminum foil to carry a cargo of pennies. This led to the students making larger boats out of varying materials to float down the stream in the arboretum across the street. During these experiments, students learned the value of appropriate material selection as well as construction techniques. Each day, class members analyzed the results of the previous trip and made changes to boats based on perceived shortcomings.
To date, many of the returning students remembered playing similar games last year. They worked together to help new students devise strategies to play the various games. The addition of short duration engineering problems was received positively from the student, who love to build and dream up creations.
The study of air was almost entirely driven by student interests. This study has continued to drive the classroom activities through most of the winter session.
To date the students learned:
Voyagers’ Community School
215 Broad Street
Eatontown, NJ 07724
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