I teach Kindergarten in an inner city school. Each morning my children come to school with smiles on their faces and eagerness to learn. My classroom is a safe base for kids; many of my students have witnessed violence, come to school hungry, or seeking attention they may not receive at home because of the work schedule of parents.
Unfortunately, the demands of kindergarten have changed and my 4- & 5-year-old children are expected to sit at their tables and complete assignments in reading, writing, and math that are not developmentally appropriate.
I love to engage my students in scientific inquiry but there is not always enough time to complete activities in science with all of the other requirements.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a professional development workshop on incorporating STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Math) activities into the K/1 classroom. I want to provide my students with an engaging and interdisciplinary curriculum but need the requested materials to do so.
“Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist.” - Carl Sagan
Using these STEAM materials, my students will take more responsibility for their own learning.
Based on their interests, they will formulate questions and develop a plan to answer those questions. They will develop skills that go beyond academics; they will learn to work cooperatively in small groups, respect the ideas of classmates that may differ from their own, and to persevere when they have difficulty with or fail at a task.
As my students plan and initiate their learning using the requested materials, they will be incorporating all elements of STEAM. For example, a small group of students may want to recreate the bridge from The Three Billy Goats Gruff using the Block Play STEM Early Learning Kit or Design & Build Engineering Center. Science - students will study the strength of different materials they can use to build the bridge and the role of force and weight of the object using the bridge. They can even test the ability of the structure to withstand natural disasters using the Survive the Quake Engineering Kit. They can use the Water Play STEM Early Learning Kit to build and test a buoyancy bridge. Technology - viewing different bridge structures through virtual field trips or creating an iMovie of the learning process.
Engineering- students build several designs to find which design works best and examining why one structure works better than another.
Art - students choose what materials they want to use to build their structures or create 2D drawings of their designs.
Math - students estimate and later confirm the weight of object using the bridge or graphing a count of the materials used.
The Create-A-Chain-Reaction Kit will be used to create challenges for the students to solve in small groups.
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