STEM education is far more than plastic cup towers and gumdrop structures. At Evansdale Elementary School in DeKalb County we are working towards developing a STEM curricula that is based primarily on solving real world problems through questioning and investigation. Our students are recognizing problems, researching possible solutions, and developing their own ways to tackle the challenges that face them.
While studying harmful and beneficial microbes, 5th graders are using what they are learning day to day in their science classrooms to research and solve a problem. Students were alarmed by the number of individuals being sent home due to a myriad of infectious diseases affecting both students and teachers. The students decided that there was a serious problem and it was their job, as leaders in the building, to develop a solution.
They worked together to test a series of locations where they believed many germs were being transferred. Places like the water fountain, door handles and even the handles in the restroom were tested. Students worked together to collect data before and after the areas were cleaned. As the bacterium grows, the students are working diligently to make radical changes. Some groups are working on developing a more powerful cleaning solution, while others are working to share their findings with the school at large.
During STEM instruction, our ultimate goal is to solve a problem. The integration of technology allows students to access the world outside of their classroom almost instantly. Our students are researching solutions, developing public service announcements, and communicating across the grade level with the use of applications like Padlet and Edmodo. The students are planning to film their public service announcements using a free storyboard program. The students are working diligently to write their own scripts, prepare their settings, and will ultimately record and edit their own work.
Integrating real world problems isn’t always easy, but at Evansdale we’re finding that students are more invested and more knowledgeable than ever before. We’ve given our students a lot of room to make choices for themselves; the integration of student choice has sparked student interest and increased accountability.
There is always a problem to be solved and students at Evansdale Elementary School are on it!
Christiana Umukoro joined Evansdale Elementary School in August of 2015 as the school’s first STEM Coordinator. She has 5 years of experience in the field of education, and has been working diligently to develop an integrated STEM curriculum throughout the school.