Monday, September 29, 2014

STEM/STEAM Introduction

This blog post has been planned for weeks.  It feels amazing to finally get it typed.

This summer I researched and planned ways to incorporate STEAM Education into my media curriculum.  STEM education, now commonly referred to as STEAM, is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.  Its focus is to  educate students through an interdisciplinary and applied approach.  Rather than teach each discipline separately, STEAM integrates them into a cohesive learning situation based on real world problems. Students engaging in STEAM projects will demonstrate critical thinking, curiosity, adaptability, and initiative while developing as leaders and supporting one another through collaboration and team building.


The students will have design challenges throughout the year that will relate to what I am teaching or their classroom teachers are teaching. Students will use the Engineering Design Process to complete the challenge: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve. Hanging in my room are the posters I made, and the students will work through the process with my worksheet. (both freebies right now, click the pictures below)






Before even discussing STEAM or the Engineering Design Process I read the book "Rosie Revere Engineer" by Andrea Beaty illustrated by David Roberts to the students.  Each class I started with, "This book is written by an amazing author and illustrated by an amazing illustrator so we must have an..." and students responded with "amazing book!"  Students shared their ideas about what an engineer is and I filled in the holes.  This book is truly amazing!  The lesson of perseverance, never giving up, and confidence is told through lyrical rhymes and detailed illustrations.  
"Your brilliant first flow was a raging success! Come on, let's get busy and on to the next!" She handed a notebook to Rosie Revere, who smiled at her aunt as it all became clear. Life might have its failures, but this was not it. The only true failure can come if you quit.” 



Since we will be doing design challenges throughout the year I wanted projects to introduce each grade to the design process.  My goal was to have each challenge be hard enough to teach that it was okay to fail but easy enough that they could focus on and learn the design process. 

Fourth grade: to build the tallest tower out of 20 pieces of spaghetti and 30 marshmallows
I put my own twist on the spaghetti tower challenge.  The tape and string I thought would be a bit too confusing and take away from my main goal.  The students learned failure with falling towers but every team had a tower that stood in the end, some not so tall. 



Third Grade: save Freddie
I found the Save Freddie activity from these free lab sheets i found here. (I wish I know who made them.) While I didn't use the sheets I used the activity.  Freddie was in his boat, the cup, when it capsized.  Unfortunately Freddie is not a good swimmer, but he safely made it to the top of the boat.  His life preserver sadly did not, it is under the capsized boat.  Using 4 paperclips and nothign else, students had to save Freddie.  Groups came up with many ways to save Freddie.  Some tried to get hi in life preserver while others tried to turn the boat over and put Freddie back in.  It was a great way to introduce STEAM.

Third Grade: to build the tallest cup tower
Students were given cups to build the tallest cup tower.  I cannot recall a single group that stayed with their original plan.  It was a perfect introduction to the design process.

First Grade: to build a tin foil boat to hold the most pennies
With this younger group I told them the question to ask and we looked at the book "Boats" by Gail Ginbons.  I showed students the different sides, shapes, and bottoms of different boats before I had them plan and create their boats.  Also, I showed students how aluminum foil will hold a fold and will rip easily in case they had never worked with tin foil before.  The students had so much fun and were not upset when their boats sank, they quickly pulled them out and rebuilt.