STEAM in Elementary School is an educational approach that merges science, technology, engineering, arts, and math to drive innovation. Students are encouraged to solve problems together and embrace the design process as they engage in inquiry and project based learning. Art and design are integral to the fields of technology and engineering and make the learning of complex concepts accessible for students. During the course of the year, students in grades 4 & 5 get hands on experience with video game programming, robotics, digital design and storytelling, and engineering challenges. We learn to code using resources from Code.org and Scratch. We explore robotics using the Lego Mindstorms system and Bee Bots. We present our ideas and stories using tools like Book Creator and Pic Collage. Students in grades 2-5 also have access to a year long keyboarding subscription through TypingPal.com. This program allows students to familiarize themselves with the QWERTY keyboard and build automaticity during typed activities.
In addition to our work in STEAM classes, many projects are created in conjunction with curricula in Social Studies, Science, Math, Reading, and Health & Human Relations as a way to reflect the integrated nature of engineering. We cover curriculum strands of computer science, digital citizenship, design and fabrication, and information and media during the course of the year.
In grades K-3, students are engaged in work from our new curriculum, Paige & Paxton, which presents engineering concepts through the story of Paige & Paxton, puzzle pieces that find their perfect fit, or personal interests, as engineers. Students then get hands on experience doing the work of engineers in collaborative activities that develop their STEAM confidence and identity. At the end of the course, students increase their awareness regarding the fields of engineering, connect their interests and talents with career choices, and learn the work mindsets of structural, packaging, and aerospace engineers!
Lastly, Tech Integrators also work with classroom teachers to introduce assistive technology to students individually and in groups. Assistive technology in the elementary school is responsive to the needs of students. Students are taught to use a number of tools to assist them through out the day, including text to speech use for reading, speech to text supports for writing, and handwriting supports such as Handwriting Heroes and Co-Writer. iPads are used to organize students’ ideas and increase writing fluency with apps such as Book Creator, Kidspiration, Pic Collage, and Clicker Documents.
At Churchill, we have ample technology resources for both students and teachers. Students in Kindergarten through 5th grade have classroom 1:1 iPads sets. In addition, teachers have access to a shared cart of laptops to enhance instruction.