Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Students Fuel STEAM Center Effort and Design

Yes, the STEAM Center looks like a tornado came through the classroom.

It's my first year of truly putting a STEAM center together. The center has started with mostly arts and craft materials from Job Lot, recyclables, left over supplies from home and school, and a few things, such as popsicle sticks (which students love) that I was able to order from the school order.

I've invested a few dollars into the start-up, and I've just let it happen which has resulted in a number of really wonderful inventions such as "mini bowling," "mini basketball," "parachute jumpers," "desk catapults," "medieval costumes and tools," "Little bits cars," "Makey-Makey light up hands," "Expo Board Erasers and Rim," and more. And now that the students have watched Caine's Arcade more arcade games are springing up.

We've had a few times devoted to STEAM, but so far, most of the inventing has happened during recess and underneath desks while I've been teaching which has created a bit of creative tension that's pushed me forward with the initiative. We also used the STEAM Center to craft our "Favorite Place in Nature" models with lots of ingenuity as we made paint colors from old markers, mountains out of tinfoil, and landscapes with sand, glue, paper, and paint.

Late yesterday, I moved the center to a bigger space at the back of the room. This morning, I'll quickly sort materials and make more space for creation on the many tables that are there. My STEAM manager and others will work at recess to better sort, organize, and enrich the center. We'll also begin collecting more recyclables and other materials in earnest as we grow this initiative, and hopefully invite in some experts to model design think, invention, and more. We'll find other experts like Caine through video and the Internet.

I've written and thought a lot about STEAM on paper, but it's not until you start engaging these inventive and creative science, tech, engineering, art, and math concepts with children, that you really understand what it means. I've got a lot to learn, but at least we've started, and the children will certainly be the energy that fuels this growth.

Monday's Global Cardboard Challenge will give us a chance to test out our renewed STEAM center as well.