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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

STEAM Start

This morning after I reviewed a host of scores and data related to last year's science program, I began to think about the one-hour-a-week STEAM effort I'll lead for fifth graders next year. Where will I begin? What will we do?

I will build this effort in connection with the State science standards which are closely aligned with NGSS, students' interests and experiences, system-wide goals, and successful STEAMwork from the last year few years.

How will we start?

The first job is to create the STEAM learning environment. Once the flooring is done in my classroom, I've got some physical work to do in order to put together shelves, sort and categorize materials, and create our exploration space. Ideally I'd have some dollars and support to create a space like the areas I investigated at the Smithsonian last week--areas captured in the pictures below.


Next, I'll introduce students to our STEAM rationale, goals, and process and we'll create STEAM protocols together.

After that, I'll focus the STEAM time on Learning-to-Learn attributes and mindsets. I did some of this last year, but not enough. I need to do more especially in the area of teamwork to truly boost students ability to engage in wonderful, innovative, problem solving STEAMwork.

The next focus will be the Global Cardboard Challenge. I'm hoping that the team will agree to devote a couple of days plus the one-hour STEAM sessions to this effort.

We'll then move into a number of measurement-related hands-on explorations and activities. I have to couple our STEAM efforts with both science and math standards, and measurement is a good starting place since we'll use those skills all year as we complete further explorations. We'll also employ a coding thread that starts about this time. We'll use SCRATCH.

We'll soon start our naturalist "pattern seeking" study after the measurement explorations with a focus on life science.

Following that we'll move into the standards base areas of explorations related to physical science, earth/space science, and engineering and technology. It's likely that we'll invite some visiting scientists from local museums to help us out with these investigations like we did last year. We'll also employ the space adaptation and marble maze activities at this time.

At the end of the year, we'll return to our life science/naturalist efforts in conjunction with Drumlin Farm, our local Audubon organization.

The STEAM year is outlined, and now it's time to meet with the team to discuss the details and then get busy with the specific activities related to each phase of the year.

Let me know if you have any information, resources, or ideas to offer us as we begin this exciting exploration effort.