STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy. (Tsupros, 2009)
STEM ALL AROUND US:
To kick off STEM ALL AROUND US, we are pleased to highlight the K-2 teachers and students who are engaged in wonderful STEM work. Mrs. Roger (K-2 Inquiry Coach) and the K-2 teachers and students have been engaged in many exciting STEM focused experiences in the first 2 months of school. The Kindergarten, first and second grade classes have been actively engaged in STEM “Ritual and Routines”. To celebrate National Chemistry week, Ms. Galvan, Mrs. Valle and Mrs. Bizzigotti’ s classes had very special guests visit as students learned more about Chemistry. The Kindergarten teachers have been training and preparing to implement the FOSS (Full Option Science System) Module Trees and Weather. First grade teachers have continued their training and preparation to implement the FOSS kit Balance and Motion. The first grade classes have also begun to explore the STEM Lab and participate in simple Inquiry activities for their students.
The Second grade teachers and classes have been actively working through their Engineering by Design (EbD) Unit: Our Environment, Our Health which utilizes a collaborative approach to exploring our dependence on fossil fuels as a global issue, and to recognize that stewardship and innovation can make a difference in solving the world's problems.
There are many awesome activities that we would like to share with you from our 3rd, 4th and 5th grades and their wonderful STEM work. Mrs. Patanella, (3rd-5th Inquiry Coach) has been very busy engaging and supporting teachers and students with the developments of their STEM programs. The Third grade teachers and students have been busy learning about measurement through the use of Gourds. Additionally, Mr. Lott’s class has been working through the Engineering by Design Unit: Every Drop Matters which develops students' understanding of green technologies, matter, earth materials, and the importance of water conservation. Our Fourth grade classes have been actively engaged with their science partners from Roberts Wesleyan College as well as using Gourds to help support their skills in Measurement. Mr. Smith and Mrs. Rothberg’s class has continued to work on their EbD unit: The Power of Solar which develops students' understanding of energy systems and related technologies, temperature, electricity, and sustainable sources of energy. Our Fifth grade classes are busy learning and experiencing their EbD Unit: Community Connections which is developing students’ understanding of transportation and communication technologies, basic principles of motion, human impact on the natural world, and sustainable use of land. This 5th grade unit is very challenging but students are working very hard!
In October, all of the NRCS 6th grade students participated in a chemistry experience in the STEM Lab with Mr. Mastrogiovanni (STEM Specialist) and Mrs. Yarde (6th grade Science Teacher) testing different substances to identify common chemicals (cornstarch, baking soda and sugar) as part of the 6th grade unit, Women in Science. The sixth grade students learned that cornstarch, baking soda and sugar react or do not react when iodine, vinegar or heat was introduced to the three substances.
On Friday September 5, 2014, the seventh and eighth grade students at the Nathaniel Rochester Community School (#3), under the direction and guidance of Mr. Cicero (6th-8th Inquiry Coach), received Chromebooks as part of their transition to a STEM Magnet School. Chromebooks are laptops that run the Google operating system which encourages collaboration on documents and other features found in the Google Apps for Education suite. The teachers spent countless hours this summer planning for the implementation in order to close the achievement gap by enhancing student learning through greater access to technology within the classroom. Brian Santillo, Terry Lemen, and Joe Cicero will be presenting their work with the T in STEM at this year’s NYSCATE Conference.
On October 6, NRCS STEM initiated the first monthly K-2 STEM Parent Academy. The Parent Academy was designed for parents to begin to explore and discover STEM and the focus of STEM at NRCS. The K-2 STEM Parent Academy in October focused on motion and forces. Parents created marble runs (rollercoaster) complete with turns, loops and hills. Parents were also presented two story books; Rollercoaster and Ways Things Move along with the exact materials needed to replicate the marble run at home with their children.
Each month the STEM Team offers a STEM Challenge. Teachers are invited to attend a STEM Challenge PD where they learn the challenge, the constraints and then go through the challenge themselves. The teacher PD is designed to let the teachers feel the excitement and frustration of the challenge as well as build their foundation for the STEM around the challenge. This experience support an understanding for misconceptions while building background knowledge and insight into the challenge which will support students as they face the STEM challenge. September’s STEM challenge was to build a vehicle using four life savers, two paper clips three straws, 2 feet of tape and one 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper. The challenge was to build a vehicle that would travel the farthest when pushed by wind generated from a fan. The final challenge competition involved 18 teams and 39 students. The competition was held in the STEM Lab.