Last fall, five of my sixth graders, a group of seventh graders, and eighth graders had the chance to attend a STEM workshop geared towards middle school students. Apparently, I failed to write about that experience. Today, this is my make up day writing instead about the second day of the STEM workshop, attended by those students last Monday.
First, we had the chance to talk with a student from the area who is working for Premier Guitar. She talked about how she got to where she was and how STEM doesn’t just mean science types, but it can be any kind of science, technology, engineering, or math! She talked about the need for graphic designers, computer engineering, coders, people able to create, run, and think of how all this fits into a business. I could see how this helping to change those preconceived notions of what a STEM career truly was.
Next, we took the game Monolopy and changed it using a team process. We had designers, managers, artists, and managers (community and project). Students were given 15 minutes to create a new game based around the rules, but changed them to our next game. At the end of that time, teams moved to another game and tried it out. The project manager stayed back, talked through the game, then looked for input on how to improve the game. Teams returned, talked, improved, and set out again. All in all, it was a great activity in working in teams, how the revision process can make such a huge difference, but not only to revise, but to make it better.
Finally, we had our breakout sessions. Students could pick from coding, robotics, graphic design, augmented reality, metal casting, and 3-D printing. Wow, the kids were in heaven! I had two of my students attend the coding session twice because “it was boss!” Other students enjoyed seeing metal casting, seeing how to design things for the 3-D printer, and how to program robots! All in all, these were students engaged in their learning, looking how they can expand their skills in STEM areas. My favorite part was two fold: watching my
My problem: time. Our schedule has been compressed so that social studies and science have been all but squeezed out. I’ll be looking at my schedule, looking how I can possibly find a place to add back in some of these subjects as I know I’m not doing them justice.
Either way, have students (and a daughter) who now know what STEM is, and they are excited for what the future holds in this field!