Dan Wenkel and Dr. Beth Robelia, dedicated science teachers from Minnesota, returned with fellow educator and art teacher, Chris Weihe, for another engaging STEAM week in March. STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art, & mathematics, is tightly coupled with innovation and experiential learning. The trio brought down 14 suitcases packed with supplies, including 3 sewing machines, K’nex, snap circuit kits, and more. The week’s focus entailed experimentation, problem solving, building, failing, and persevering. As the kids reflect, it was recognized as, “THE BEST WEEK EVER!”
Dan and Beth had the youngest students building with giant Duplo Legos, launching paper rockets and predicting flight projections, color mixing, building race tracks, and engaging in countless hands on activities. Beth used candy and “fact family” cards to teach our preschoolers addition and subtraction, which the students loved.
Older students examined samples under the microscopes that were brought down during their previous trip. Students also engaged in an engineering challenge where they were grouped and given the task of creating the most durable yet cost effective tower. Students were offered materials like wooden posts, rubber bands, wire, glue, and rope, which they could “purchase.” After understanding various design constraints, students began calculating the cost of their supplies before building. At the end of the week, the towers were tested. While some were crushed under pressure, many survived and our young engineers are eager for larger scale engineering challenges.
Students were taught the importance of recycling fabric, especially clothing. Students became fabric engineers and designed, cut patterns, and actually sewed articles of clothing and accessories for the youngers students. Creations were modeled during the end of the week fashion show. The boys also sewed cushion and couch covers for the living room couch.
Ms. Chris discussed upcycling and taught students to fuse plastic grocery bags with an iron to create purses, pencil cases, and durable bags. Students also learned how to make paper and created ecofriendly paper seedling cups. Students intend to plant seeds in them, and once sprouted, students will place the cups inside garden where they’ll naturally decompose.
Additionally, students were taught how to print images on fabric. They drew images, traced them with silicone to create a print plate, applied ink, and pressed their images onto fabric totes, creating unique designs. Ms. Chris taught the kids the importance of addressing value, along with positive and negative spaces in art. Students also learned about background washing and the various ways to paint with water colors. After school, individual art tutorials were given to the interested aspiring artists.
The kids weren’t the only ones to benefit from the week. The guests taught our nannies how to operate the sewing machines that were kindly donated. They also blessed our teachers with countless educational resources and professional development, where cognitively guided instruction techniques were discussed.
One of the most impressive projects was the garden renovation. With the help of Dan, the mission has a new and durable garden. An eavestrough was placed to guide water into a series of barrels that make up the water collection system. A composter was built so that students can place food scraps and leaves from the yard within to produce rich soil.
Launching paper rockets!
UNDER THE LENS
Josue reviews the microscope lesson
UPCYCLING: FROM PLASTIC TO FASHION