What makes a twenty-first-century learner? At our urban elementary school, we believe that collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and logical thinking are necessary for career and college success. As the school's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) specialist teacher, I help every child develop these skills. I teach science, engineering, and digital literacy to all learners (K-5).
Forty-five percent of our school's students are low-income, and 66% percent are designated as English Language Learners.
Nearly 15% of our student qualify for Special Educational services.
As a community, we believe that every one of these students has the potential to become a successful twenty-first-century learner.
When a child creates a structure with blocks, he/she practices essential collaboration and problem-solving skills. What materials are best for this purpose? How do I work with my classmates to solve problems? What designs are sturdy, and which ones fall down? What should I do when my first attempt doesn't work? These are all important questions that students can explore through hands-on, block-based engineering challenges.
These block sets will be used for STEM challenges with students in preschool through grade four.
For example, in first grade, we will use the blocks to construct various types of bridges. As they learn about bridge design, students will evaluate why engineers make different design choices for different problems. Second and third graders will use the blocks to create animal habitats. By building a safe home for their chosen animal, students will reinforce their learning about adaptations and environments. In doing so, each of these learners will not only engage with the engineering design cycle, but also practice their collaborative skills and creative problem-solving. We are just a few blocks away from some amazing engineering!
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