Innovations Focusing on STEM/STEAM
This year’s round of CFI Grant Awards was designed to develop curriculum, instructional strategies, and authentic assessments in the areas listed below, under the umbrella of STEM/STEAM.
Here is a list of funded projects for the 2015-16 school year:
John Calvert, QR Computer Teacher, Mark Winston, Fifth grade teacher, David Liebowitz, Fifth grade teacher
This team created a large, dedicated area in two classrooms where students can go to think and work creatively. They called this area “Tinkertown” (each classroom has between 300-400 sq. ft. dedicated to “Tinker Space”). Students will build and utilize common design thinking language (such as “the bad idea factory”, “moonshot thinking”, “don’t crash and burn”, etc.). Using the design-thinking approach to learning (Stanford d.School design-thinking program, empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test), students will work critically and creatively to create and build items that they think up. Ideation stations emphasize the empathizing/definition/brainstorming components of the process. Student will learn through the process that mistakes and failures are an important step in the process towards success. They will reflect on their process and learn from their mistakes. We are looking at this process as a gateway to redesign the traditional classroom by analyzing curricular units of study, and applying the design thinking approach when possible and where appropriate.
Building a Music Maker Museum, Revisted
Jessica Slotwinski, Middle School music teacher, MIchael Pincus, computer teacher
This project team developed a Music Maker Museum (in relation to the STEAM initiative) in which Sixth Grade Exploring Music students would design, create, and display electronic instruments or electrified artwork that made sound. Over an approximately 10-week-span (the length of one quarter; classes met every other day for about 43 minutes), to complete their projects The students worked with a microprocessor called Ototo, conductive paint, copper tape, aluminum foil, wood, and other building materials in small groups, pairs, and individually to design, research, and create instruments or programmable artwork to display in an interactive Museum. Additionally, the students created descriptions of their projects and instructions for visitors to understand their instruments or how to interact with their piece of art.
Little Bits and a 3D Printer in a High School Math Classroom
Monica Pelakar, High School Math Teacher, Joe Nista, High School Math Teacher
This project's goal was to incorporate hands-on projects applying theoretical principles into the Math 454i Honors Interdisciplinary applications math course, a course for 12 grade students having taken at least Pre-Calculus. In a traditional classroom, students might learn about a mathematical principle through reading or lecture; with these projects, students are learning by doing. The projects’ curricular connections provided students and teachers with valuable opportunities to engage in activities aligned with District and building conversations and initiatives about creative problem solving and Makerspaces.
STEAM Rock 'n Roll
Peter McKenna, computer teacher, Fox Meadow, Erik Holvig, computer teacher, Greenacres, Katherine Bescherer, Heathcote Music Teacher, Andrew Brown, Elementary Music Teacher, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Edgewood Art Teacher, Lisa Forte, Edgewood Music Teacher
The goal of this project was to research and develop a multi-session unit where all aspects of STEAM are critically involved in the work. After several team-brainstorming sessions, The team developed a prototype for the unit. Team members then adapted the unit to fit their individual school setting, taking into consideration schedule, colleagues with whom they would collaborate, and class configuration. The unit has proven very successful in each of the schools, with learning outcomes surpassing expectations.