ELEMENTARY S.T.E.A.M. PROGRAM
Full S.T.E.A.M. A HEAD AT NORTH SHORE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
Students discover how to overcome challenges, creatively solve unique problems, express and develop ideas, and collaborate with peers to better understand and contribute to our world
The goal of S.T.E.A.M. education is to provide all students with opportunities to see how science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics interact and overlap to help us better understand and contribute to our world. S.T.E.A.M. learning allows students to experience the intersections between different disciplines and creates a more meaningful context for inquiry and learning in which communication, collaboration, problem-solving, innovation, commitment, and critical and creative thinking are essential.
In our North Shore elementary schools, S.T.E.A.M. is a part of everyday learning for all K-5 students throughout the year. Our elementary students benefit from having two dedicated S.T.E.A.M. teachers who facilitate hands-on and minds-on experiences for all classes during designated S.T.E.A.M. learning periods. Each elementary school has its own S.T.E.A.M. Lab, equipped with a well-stocked Makerspace, flexible and collaborative furniture, and a variety of robots. Beyond their scheduled S.T.E.A.M. classes, students can tinker with and explore some of the latest and greatest technologies and materials we have available in our S.T.E.A.M. Labs during school-wide recess club opportunities.
“The S.T.E.A.M. program has been a huge asset to our educational program. It is a place where all students are pushed to think deeply about concepts, problem solve, and collaborate in authentic ways. I was amazed as Kindergartners spoke about forces of motion and created marble roller coasters with loops and all! Most importantly, children love the S.T.E.A.M. lab and could not be more engaged in their learning.” -Allison Loring, Kindergarten Teacher, Glen Head School
This year, Mr. Ryan Bridgwood joins Ms. Adrien Kaye as part of the dynamic "S.T.E.A.M. Team" that excites and inspires our district's youngest learners. In Mr. Bridgwood's classroom,
students across all grades explore technology and computer science as a means to express, connect, and develop their ideas and are introduced to the concepts and skills necessary to integrate modern technology into the engineering design process. Students explore robotics through an assortment of robots and coding platforms and discover how they can overcome various challenges and solve many unique problems through programming.
"I like S.T.E.A.M. because it lets us be creative to solve problems
and helps us learn to be engineers." -Isabelle I., Third Grader
During their time with Ms. Kaye, students ask questions about the natural world and consider ways they can improve their environment, all while following the steps of the engineering design process and applying their understanding of specific scientific concepts. Working as engineers, students identify a particular problem or challenge to tackle before researching and ideating a prototype that they later build, test, and improve. As they progress through the iterative design process, students collaborate with peers and connect their work to the science learning they are doing in their classrooms.
"I like programming because solving all the different challenges is interesting
and makes me want to get creative.” Olivia V., Third Grader
Engineering Design Challenges and Science Learning Enrichment
- As an extension of the kindergarten winter study, students work together to research, plan, and create effective snow shovel models with the goal of collecting the most snow by mass. Kindergarten engineers also explore force, motion, and design as they build and study different types of ramps before using their knowledge to construct marble roller coasters out of foam tubing.
- First grade engineers use their understanding of sound and vibrations to create innovative instruments from recycled materials, which are on display for the entire school community through our first grade S.T.E.A.M. parades.
- In second grade, students use a specific collection of materials to create a variety of things as they explore matter and consider how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into something new. During this exploration, students are challenged to use the set of materials to create working catapults that can launch pom-poms as far as possible.
- To enrich their classroom science learning about weather, third grade engineers use classroom materials to plan and create working anemometers that can measure the speed of the wind. Concentrating on tool design, students begin the engineering design process by first investigating and taking apart a real anemometer to better understand the parts of the weather instrument and how the tool's structure relates to its intended function.
- As part of their scientific investigation of waves, fourth graders engage in an earthquake-engineering challenge. After first conducting research about earthquake-resistant structures, engineers then imagine, design, and build solutions that stop structures from shearing, or tilting, during an earthquake. Throughout the research portion of the engineering design process, student findings are organized into class building codes that student engineering groups use as they plan and create larger earthquake-resistant structures that follow certain criteria and constraints.
- Going along with the fifth grade Microworlds science unit, and focused around the question, "How can we communicate what can't be seen with the naked eye?" student design groups use Makerspace materials (various art and classroom materials, including recyclables) to create an exhibit of sculptural pieces that communicate what specific objects or specimens look like under a microscope.
Robotics, Programming, and Technology
- Students in kindergarten and second grade explore the beginnings of robotics by observing and tinkering with various robots. As they learn about programming, our students create their own animations with code and showcase them to the class community.
- Our 1st graders explore and learn about everything they need to survive on the Moon through the International FIRST LEGO League Jr. program. Our engineers construct models to show how the everyday tasks we do to survive on Earth can be modified so we can perform them on the Moon. During the construction of their models, students learn how they can use code to make their displays interactive and capable of motion.
- Third, fourth, and fifth grade students explore robotics in more depth, learning first how to communicate with their robots efficiently through block-based programming and then learning how to apply their programming knowledge to solve various challenges. Students further explore programming as they code and create their own interactive animations and mini-games using a blocked-based programming language.
Article and photos provided by Ms. Adrien Kaye and Mr. Ryan Bridgwood
Additional photos by Shelly Newman