Hopatcong Middle School Students go Crazy with STEAM Elective Class

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Students in Hopatcong Middle School Mr. McKowen’s and Mr. Anderson’s STEAM elective classes have been working on the Google 20-Time Projects.

Hopatcong Middle School projects this marking period include designing and printing 3-D models in Tinkercad, learning to solder by making battery powered phone chargers, extracting DNA from strawberries, learning about chemical reactions, and coding and building robots.

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Pictured below are Hopatcong Middle School 6th grade students extracting DNA from a strawberry and looking at their results through a microscope, creating “elephant toothpaste” to explore chemical reactions, and designing a phone stand and charger in Tinkercad.

More About Google 20-Time Projects:

Inspire Drive, Creativity in the Classroom with 20-Time.

Daniel Pink asks what drives us. Sir Ken Robinson asks us to inspire creativity in our students. The latest in education is asking us to teach our students to create their own questions, do their own research, and form their own conclusions with their learning. Why? The world is a collaborative, communicative place and it is the world of online tools that has made it this way. Our students' workplaces will be places with teams at tables, not individuals in cubicles. They will be asked to be innovative and create the next tool, not to push bureaucratic paper. We must teach them how to think on their own without being told what to do. We need to teach them to be autonomous learners. Only one who can guide his own learning can effectively contribute to a team.

More About STEAM:

STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!

Why is STEAM education important?

For far too long in education, we’ve been working with the presumption of teaching to ensure our students get a “good job”. But what does that look like?  We are preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist.

We are at a point where it is not only possible, but imperative that we facilitate learning environments that are fluid, dynamic, and relevant. None of us go outside and look at a tree and say, “that’s a tree, so that’s science” or, “the sky is blue, so that’s art.”

Our world is a beautiful, complex, and intricate tapestry of learning all in its own right. Why do we believe that we have the ability or the right to box it in behind brick walls and classroom doors in a place called school?

Integrating concepts, topics, standards and assessments is a powerful way to disrupt the typical course of events for our students and to help change the merry-go-round of “school.”

It takes what we do when we open the doors to the real world and places those same practices in our cycles of teaching and learning. So we can finally remove the brick walls and classroom doors to get at the heart of learning.

The STEAM Model

The pathway to STEAM is exciting, but can also be dangerous without an understanding of what STEAM truly means in both its intention and its implementation.  Like its STEM predecessor, STEAM can stop short of its best manifestation without several core components:

  • STEAM is an integrated approach to learning which requires an intentional connection between standards, assessments and lesson design/implementation
  • True STEAM experiences involve two or more standards from Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and the Arts to be taught AND assessed in and through each other
  • Inquiry, collaboration, and an emphasis on process-based learning are at the heart of the STEAM approach
  • Utilizing and leveraging the integrity of the arts themselves is essential to an authentic STEAM initiative

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