This summer I had a chance to teach a STEAM class to K-5th graders for a week. For those that may not know, STEAM stands for Science, Technology. Engineering, Art, and Math. I love STEAM. I most cases, children are asked to solve a problem, given some rules, and then set free. How they choose to solve the problem is completely up to them. For example, in the picture above the children were asked to build a bridge between tables that supported a bucket full of rocks. They could only use popsicle sticks, clothes pins, and binder clips. the kids LOVED this project. In fact I even had several adults that wanted to try. Throughout the course of the kids' building we talked about non-standard measurement, observation, and weight distribution. The kids were learning and they didn't even know it! It was awesome!
The other thing that I love to teach children when I teach STEAM is the computer programmer's model for solving problems. First we talk about breaking a big problem into smaller parts. For example, with the exercise from above we began simply building a bridge that would go between the two tables. Once they had the bridge we made worked on slowly adding weight until their bridge could hold the entire bucket of rocks. We had a lot of failures, but we talked about how we don't give up when a problem gets hard. We persevere. When the kids did finally create a bridge that worked, they were so happy! There was a lot of cheering. Several kids said at the end of the week how STEAM was their favorite class! Learning and loving it!
Kathryn Harrison has worked in several different educational settings, so she has a unique perspective on education.