Friday, January 22, 2016

STEAM Theme Day Reflections

Today teams of three and four students worked all day to create Rube Goldberg-like marble maze machines. In designated areas throughout the classrooms and in the hallways, team members negotiated their design efforts. Then as the machines took shape, they finessed the construction so that the marble would run its course and achieve the desired end.

A colleague who manages the science curriculum for our team did a lot of wonderful preparation leading up to the project so that children understood what simple machines are and how they work. In every project students had to incorporate at least three simple machines. As you can imagine the fifth grade wing was filled with active, energized, creative students who designed together. There were moments of utter frustration when collaboration didn't work or the marble got stuck or lost its course, but overall, every group ended up with a viable project that worked most of the time.

Just think how this kind of collaborative design will impact these children as they move forward with future endeavor when collaboration and creativity are required. These STEAM theme days, though in some ways too short, provide a terrific opportunity for students to apply their knowledge in meaningful and challenging ways, ways that require stamina and lots of trial and error.

Today's STEAM Theme Day marked our third such day so far this year. We've got about four more planned, and with each day, I become more adept at prepping and leading students toward successful learning and result.