Academic Excellence: Curiosity Sparks STEAM Students

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.”
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St. Paul's Episcopal School
116 Montecito Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
510.285.9600