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Well, STEM and more is what I do!

When I returned this year, I adjusted my schedule to be able to have weekly “lab days” with grades 3-5, found day to meet with all 3 kindergarten classes and have a rotating day with grade 1 & 2 every 4-6 weeks. K-4 has had little of me so I’m trying to have a monthly “show me” class with them, beginning this month. Most of these classes are 30 minutes in length…hoping for more minutes in the future. Every day brings me a different “lab day” to create…such fun!

I also provide events in like the 5th grade retreat, an overnight camping event full of “Wild Things!” This is year 22. Creation Care Week gives students and teachers some class time to show how God’s Creation provides for us and the responsibility we have to use it wisely.

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New this year will be “the art of pinhole cameras” with 5th grade and two high school art classes. This should be very cool!

Are not you the science guy? Well, sort of, perhaps I do “science on steroids.”

STEM is combining the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics into a field of study.  Many think STEM is Robotics…well, it is and much more. It is a mind set, a way of looking at the world through a lens of an insect. Stop by LCS RISE sometime to see it in action in the middle and high school!

I think those who came up with this term “STEM” fell short…they forgot  an  “A” for “art.” Some like-minded people, like me, (there are a few), have tried to get an “A” in there…but it did not catch on. But I like it!

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Now we have STEAM…I guess that is what I do with my students.

What’s STEAM, you ask?

“Science, Technology, Art, Engineering, Mathematics” But wait, where is English, Spelling, Reading, Physical Education, History, etc etc. Don’t worry, it’s in there.  What I try to do with the students is to find a way to have them engage with a big idea. I will come up with a challenge question asking, “who, what, when, why, where or how about the topic.  The activity we do makes a connection to the subject matter in their science.  In lab we observe “what” happened so we can analyze the “why” it did!

Can that be done in one lesson?  Not really, but that is where the teacher comes in…I ask them to take time to debrief them on what was done in lab. That’s where the learning finds a way to stick.

Here is an example of STEAM.

In preparation for the 5th grade retreat, students learned about natural and synthetic dyes and fabrics via power point presentation. (Technology/Science)

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During the first class they explored the dyes that arefound in fruit, veggies, flowers, clay and other natural materials.  They created a piece of art on a paper plate.   Some made rainbows. Others made a mess. It was their expression!  We discussed the chemistry of some or the dyes and the history of their discovery. (Art/Engineering/Science)

The next class they learned how to make a pattern on a piece of cotton cloth by folding or twisting it and “poofing” it with a gum band. It was dyed with blueberry juice. They unfolded it and “marveled” at their patterns.  (Engineering/Art/Math)

The third day they viewed a power point presentation showing numerous tie dye patterns and how they are made.  After selecting their pattern, students received their damp cotton shirt and created their design and tied them off with gum bands (Pittsburghese for rubber band). (Technology, Engineering, Math)

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Day four was the most fun…the dying of the shirts!

We used ketchup and mustard containers to “pencil” the synthetic dye on to the cotton shirts. We used the primary colors, red, blue and yellow. We cheated with purple as the red and blue could not make the purple we wanted.  The fun is seeing their faces when they take the gum bands off.  The nice thing about tie dye shirts, they are just like kids, all different! And you really cannot make a mistake!  (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math), it’s all there.

At camp they will finish the shirts by stenciling the camp theme, “Eyes on Christ” on the back. We use Sharpies and rubbing alcohol to see the chromatography of the colors of the pens.

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Well, now you know what this STEM/STEAM thing is…it encompasses about every area of our lives!

Please stop by the Wonder Room any time!

Mr. Fred Wiechmann serves as a Science Resource Teacher for LCS. You can email him atfwiechmann@lcsonline.org

Published on by Fred Wiechmann.