Let me tell you a little bit about what she was referring to. Our campus IP, Kelly Van Meter, has been working for months now to start a STEM initiative on our campus. She wanted to get the ball rolling this year and then jump into full swing next year. Here is a brief list of what we have planned for next year:
1.Thanks to our Booster Club we will have an Imagination Playground on our campus next year and a STEM cart in every classroom.
2. In addition to our Science Day next February, we are going to have a STEM Day in November. Kelly has already been busy organizing presenters and meeting with Booster Club reps in an effort to be able to pull this off in the Fall.
To gear everyone up for next year, she decided to "push in" to classrooms this Spring and model the Engineering Design Process for teachers and students. Because our teachers love Swedish Fish so much, she decided to build a lesson around propelling these much sought after pieces of candy either through the water or through the air. Kelly broke the lessons down by grade levels to ensure that students were challenged, but not overwhelmed. They went as follows:
Kinder and First was asked to build something to float their fish.
Second was asked to Flink their fish. Flinking is a combination of floating and sinking so the fish has to be suspended in mid-water.
Third-Fifth had to propel their fish through the air.
In each class that we visited, Kelly covered the characteristics of an engineer and the steps in the Engineering Design Process, and then issued the students their challenge. Students were divided into groups and assigned tasks within that group. There was a communicator, a device manager, a media specialist and a materials manager. Students worked on their plan, collected their materials, built their devices and then tested them.
Here is what I have found from these experiences: Problem based learning not only ensures student engagement, it propels learning to a whole new level.
Below you will find a movie trailer that summarizes the experience and some photos that should give you a glimpse into the last few days at Eanes Elementary.