Week of 8/14
Welcome back! I hope everyone had a restful and relaxing summer and is energized for an exciting year in STEM! Over the summer I had the pleasure of attending some incredibly well-run and educational trainings, bringing back some new ideas for our students to experience and explore in the classroom. This means new and challenging ways of integrating STEM in the classroom ranging all the way from dissections to learning coding, and Laguna Road students will experience all of it. I look forward to a great year in STEM and can’t wait to get started!
Week of 8/21
With our first week back in the STEM Lab the Kinders got their first taste of engineering in practice with a STEM challenge of building the tallest stable tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows in pairs of two. The concept was to reinforce their knowledge of shapes and how solid shapes provide more stability than amorphous structures. This is a nice activity to introduce Kinders to the idea of STEM and familiarize themselves with a new environment that supports their creativity and desire to be hands-on. I was blown away by the cooperation shown between groups and the resulting structures created! It was a wonderful to start a brand new year in the STEM Lab!
Week of 8/28
This week in the STEM Lab our Sixth graders were challenged to build a system that demonstrated energy transfer between multiple systems. In small groups they built contraptions that would traverse a hanging string, without the students touching the vehicle at all. This lesson caused the students to think about how they could move their own energy into something without a typical push or pull movement. This lead to many of them using balloons to propel their vehicles forward. Finally they diagrammed where the energy started from, beginning with the sun and travelling through plants, animals, and themselves to end up in the balloon. This got many of them thinking about some of the larger cycles and flows existing within nature, phenomena we hope to explore this year in STEM.
Week of 9/4
First grade got back into the STEM Lab this week and examined their plants we made in the first week. The students saw how a lack of water influences a plant’s growth by comparing two tomato plants, with one receiving water and one not over a two week period. We then moved into animals and what “tools” they have engineered over time to collect food. The students then researched carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore features and crafted life-like models of their specialized teeth. I was extremely impressed with how quickly everyone picked up the concepts and how true to life their replica jaws looked. Their ability to craft accurate models is a key skill that they will build upon for years and a strong foundation is essential to this.
Week of 9/11
Fourth grade had quite the experience this week in STEM when they made their very own robotic fingers! As they learn about the internal structures of the body they must relate them to their external structures and functions as well. With that in mind they learned about how muscles, tendons and bones work together to move the human finger. Relating what we can do and how we do it are difficult concepts that require the use of conceptualization to visualize something you can’t normally see. This skill is extremely useful in many other subjects and I hope to see great growth in this area over the course of the school year.
Week of 9/18
Third grade was in the STEM Lab this week to learn all about herd mentality. Every student broke into herds of different size and with differing numbers of “young” and “adult” members represented by small and large tools for the activity. Through simulations of food-gathering exercises the students learned about positive and negative factors that affect animals that choose to live in herds. The exercise also allowed the students to problem-solve in real time by finding multiple solutions to aid the “young” members in getting more food back to their home. This was a wonderful exercise to challenge the student’s perspectives and motivate them to think in new ways they often would not have to.