Group challenges set the tone for STEAM classroom dynamics. “The Popsicle Bridge Design Challenge is really about approach,” Middle School librarian and technology teacher Rolfe Kasling explains in reference to a student’s mindset while trying to build a supportive structure.
STEAM operates on multiple academic levels with artistic expression woven through its fabric. In this week’s first grade lesson on energy, STEAM and Art teacher Ashley Rodriguez-Reed dives into light and then spins through a color wheel, creating for our young students a tangible, interactive project that supports comprehensive understanding of an abstract concept.
STEAM teacher Robin Taylor-Fabe is launching a group challenge where students will craft a cardboard arcade game within the confines of a shoebox. The work starts with broad planning discussion among students and moves through a mess of cardboard and maker materials as the lesson evolves. How many cardboard attachments would you need for a good game of pinball? Third, fourth, and fifth graders make academic and social connections through teacher-directed, project-based group work.
Always a firm believer in student collaboration, Mr. Kasling sees the STEAM program grow through his increasing collaboration with other teachers (i.e., DIY speakers in eighth grade science or a cardboard roller coaster in sixth grade math/science). He says, “These collaborative efforts have become my favorite projects to work on and I am now an even stronger believer in the need for students to experience engineering, maker/tinker and general building activities, as they facilitate critical-thinking, problem-solving, resiliency, patience and confidence-building in students.”