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Thursday, June 02, 2016

STEAM Reflections and Direction

Today each of our fifth graders made a small biodome.

It was the first time I've led this project, and overall it went well for a first cut.

What worked?
  • We made the biodomes outside.
  • The project prompted students to explore nature with a close eye.
  • There was a lot of questioning related to the biodome design, activity, and interaction.
  • It matched our standards and recent study.
What I want to do next time?
  • I want to begin the project about a month in advance by growing small plants for the biodome. We may want to grow plants that match particular insects.
  • I want students to collect and wash their own pebbles.
  • I still want to do the project outside.
  • I want to give students a bit more time to collect insects
  • I want to create the biodomes in the fall and keep them in the classroom for quite a while so that we can use them as a teaching reference for multiple science standards.
  • I want to give students more time to think about their biodome designs. 
  • We need to collect bottles and other advantageous containers ahead of time.
Students, for the most part, clearly enjoyed the activity. It's a keeper, one which we'll continue to grow. 

As we continue this year's STEAMwork, students will learn about filtering water. Tomorrow they'll watch a few related videos and work with their teams to design a good filtering system for water. I will introduce the products available for this use. Next week they'll have time to figure out how to clean up a model of an oil spill. Again, they'll learn a bit about oil spills and the project. Then they'll have some time to design and then try out their design.

Going forward and thinking about next year, I'm wondering about taking this STEAM Path as a grade level team, a path I'll consider with my colleagues:
  1. The Team in STEAM: Global Cardboard Challenge Arcade
  2. We are a Green Team and what does that mean?
  3. What is a plant? Growing plants for our biodomes.
  4. Sustaining Life: Creating Biodomes
  5. Our Place in Space: Christa McAuliffe Challenger Center Visit
  6. How and Why Do We Compost: Worm Composting
  7. What's Matter: Learning all about matter with hands-on math and science. 
  8. Life, Water, and Energy Cycles: Learning about Living Systems including local watersheds, local endangered species, the school garden/composting, local animal/plant life with expert speakers, special field studies, reading, and writing. 
That's a rough plan for the STEAMwork ahead. Suggestions welcome.