K-4 students now have a new opportunity to work alongside peers and engage in project-based learning with the launch of the district’s elementary STEAM program for the 2021-22 school year! Originating out of the Makers’ Club at Highland Elementary and taught by Instructor Morgan Kolis, the BBHES STEAM Program
incorporates the concepts of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math within a weekly 45-minute specials class that will rotate to each elementary building for a twelve-week period. The class is currently being offered at Highland Drive and will transition to Hilton Elementary in mid-November, before moving on to Chippewa Elementary in March 2022. Through participation in the class, students develop important skills such as collaboration, communicating ideas, critical thinking skills, creativity, and innovation. The STEAM class focuses on learning and applying the steps of the design process which includes identifying the problem, brainstorming, designing, building, testing, evaluating, redesigning, and sharing solutions. This year, the curriculum of the STEAM class features an empathy-based approach. Through each design-building activity, students in grades K-2 will learn ways on how to show empathy towards others while grades 3-4 will focus on finding solutions to problems in their school, community, and around the world. The STEAM program is also ALL-inclusive ensuring that all students, including gifted, general education, and special education classes participate, with all lessons modified to meet students’ specific learning needs.
At Highland Elementary, K-4 students began the year with an introduction to STEAM concepts and practiced working together to complete a challenge of building the tallest tower using plastic or paper cups. Afterwards, students took time to reflect on and share their observations, successes, and challenges during the building process. Students then explored the concept of being an engineer by reading and discussing the book, Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrew Beaty, and engaging in various activities such as drawing a picture of and using adjectives to describe what an engineer looks like (K-2), or identifying a problem at school or at home, sketching a solution, and building an invention using classroom materials (3-4).
Highland K-2 students recently began work on the Jabari Jumps Diving Board Challenge, based on the book Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. Students began by brainstorming how to build a model of a diving board that could be used by Jabari to practice his dives. Following the design process, students used spoons, toilet paper rolls, rubber bands, tape, and popsicle sticks to create a model diving board which they will then test, as well as have an opportunity to redesign and share the results with the class.
After learning about the design process, students in grades 3-4 completed their first empathy-based design, the Shoebox Task Design Challenge! Students were tasked with designing a shoebox task that will help someone practice their fine motor skills. After brainstorming examples of fine motor skills and a task involving them, each team made a list of materials needed and created a sketch. Working with a partner, students created their shoebox task, then tested, evaluated, and made adjustments. To conclude, students shared and discussed the challenges and successes encountered during the design process.