We are bringing science to Grace Elementary this year like never before! After years of teaching science and observing students struggle with thinking for themselves and designing a lab to solve a problem, we designed a program to bring STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) into grades K-6 that would foster thinking skills, experimenting with different ways to solve a problem, and coming up with different designs in order to solve those problems.
All students, regardless of their grade level, can learn challenging scientific concepts if they are taught with an introductory lesson and then given the tools to experiment hands on, and tinker until they find a way to solve the question asked by the teacher. We foster an environment in which initial failure is welcomed, because we love seeing students go back to the drawing board, re-think problems and try again.
Recently, we asked our students to figure out which of their three hot wheels cars was the fastest. They could easily just put all three on the board and watch them roll down and see which one had the most speed, but they were told that would disqualify them from the race. They were given the tools to learn the physics formula: speed = distance/time. They used calculators, stopwatches, ramps, metric rulers and their math skills to determine which of their cars should move on to compete with other groups. Second, third and sixth grades have completed this lab and had a blast. After the lab, many of the second graders could explain the concepts because they experienced it hands on.
Grades K-6 have been doing these types of STEM activities every other week. Some of the labs have included: density, hot air balloons, electricity, building vertical marble runs, thermal dynamics, space science, Newtonʼs Laws, bubbles, robotics, and many more. We hope students come home full of excitement, telling parents about new Science concepts they have learned that day. We also truly hope they are gaining the confidence to problem solve for themselves, while discovering a love for science!
Here is what teachers are saying about the program….
“Discovery, discovery, discovery! Lessons are so much more engaging with hands-on learning. My students never cease to surprise me with their enthusiasm and creativity during labs. I can’t wait to see what is produced during the science fair!”
–Mrs. Christensen, 5th grade teacher
“STEM has already become a weekly highlight for 3rd Grade! STEM has helped my students think creatively – outside the box! It teaches them problem solving and how to use the Scientific Method. STEM keep students actively engaged, fosters curiosity, and demands teamwork.”
–Miss Morris, 3rd grade teacher
“While doing the Hot Wheels Physics today, I overheard a HIGH SCHOOL student say to another HS student, “This is the best lesson, ever!! It’s so much fun.” (un prompted and genuine) It was amazing to watch the HS students teach the youngers. They were patient and kind yet knew the concept that needed to be taught so they could help lead the students to discovery. I would have to agree with the HS girl….It was the best lesson, ever!
STEM just engages the students with the hands on learning that they crave. We are so blessed to have a k-12 setting and a phenomenal teacher like Mrs. Harmon.”
–Sami Graham, Elementary Principal