Monday, April 14, 2014

STEMville U.S.A

I've mentioned before how much I love my kids' school, and last week they had an amazing event that made me love them even more. You may know that many school are focusing on I-STEM activities. I-STEM stands for Integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The purpose of I-STEM is to get kids thinking and using these sceinces in a fun and interesting way from an early age. In my kids' school each grade level has a different STEM activity they work on each 9-week grading period. These activities are designed to challenge the students, teach the SOLs (Virginia uses Standards of Learning, which I believe are fairly similar to the Common Core Curriculum used in many other states), and allow the kids to work together in a fun way.

The activity we attended last week was a family-centered STEM activity night. To begin the evening, we were all served lunch from the school cafeteria. The school system nutritionist was on hand to explain that the beef for the hamburgers we were eating had come from cows 30 minutes down the road in Dayton. She also shared that the lettuce for the burgers was from a farmer in Lexington, VA. The school system works very hard to provide fresh, local meals for the students. I was pretty impressed with our dinner.

So did the guinea pig who got to eat strawberry leaves


As we were finishing up, the principal and STEM coordinator explained the activity we would be doing. We were to create a town, called STEMville together. Each student had a different assignment based on their grade level. Kindergarteners were to create community helpers, first graders created housing, second graders provided the transportation, third grade created entertainment, and fourth grade designed the industry.

Along with each category came certain design requirements, again based on the student's grad level. For Henry's housing structure he had to build it so it was at least 10 paper clips tall (non-standard measurement is a first grade SOL), used three different types of materials, had a door that opened and shut, and had at least two windows. Frances' industry had to be more than 6 inches long, had to have a simple machine, had to be useful to the local industry (farming).

Henry and I designed an apartment building using some cereal boxes, the plastic trays from our strawberries at dinner, some construction paper, and masking tape.

Frances created a hospital with a handicapped ramp (inclined plane) and a popsicle stick/pipe cleaner sign on it.


Ken created a box truck even though he's not in second grade. I think he was just having too much fun at the event!


As each family finished their pieces, they added them to the stage which had been set up with roads and grass and a river. The town looked pretty incredible when it was all done!

Do your kids participate in STEM activities?


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