Today’s Contributor: Arianna Doniger
My name is Arianna Doniger. I am a ESL Kindergarten teacher and Campus Innovation Coach at Allison Elementary.
We have been a campus that has struggled in getting technology into the hands of our students but slowly we are acquiring new things every year. This year we have updated our science lab into a STEAM lab with the Innovation Grant we received. Each classroom gets to visit the STEAM lab twice a month to do some type of activity geared specifically to their grade level. There is a STEAM lab instructor that helps the teachers to teach the activities. Students are taught to discuss, plan, test, revise, and retest during the STEAM lesson.
My students have built towers to see if it can hold a container using index cards and tape. A great way to help them build with flat objects like index cards and tape was showing them a video about how to fold paper to make it stand upright on its own. This helped to give my students ideas on how to make their towers more than one level and be able to hold something. It was rewarding to see that each pair was able to build something successfully and be able to hold the container.
We have also built with Duplo Legos to make different animals. First we played Bingo with the different colored blocks and then students were able to follow the directions on the card to put their animals together. Afterward, they were able to modify their animal to make a new one. My students really enjoyed drawing the picture of their new animal and naming it. It was interesting to see how some students had difficultly following the plan and putting the pieces together to make the animal and others were ready to create something new.
Recently, we were able to learn coding with Botley robots. Students use a grid board and the position cards to plan out where they wanted their robot to travel. Then they needed to program the directions into the remote and test to see if it worked. This took much trial and error on the students’ part. We came across the problem of using too many Botley robots in the same room. When one group plugged in their directions and sent it to the Botley, it caused other Botleys to move on their own. This caused a case of giggles and questions about how their robot was moving all by itself.
The next time we go to the STEAM lab we will be building with regular Legos and using the WeDo 2.0 lego app. Each time we are building on to what we have previously learned and adding more technology as we go.
Our STEAM lab is exciting and fun for our students and it’s one way to help get technology into our students’ hands. We have used videos to help give our students ideas, especially for those who struggle when starting out with a new problem. Video is also used to look at how experts build things so our students can learn that they need the foundations to build off of. We are very excited to see what else we will discover in our STEAM lab.