Critical thinkers

Holmes and Jeffers elementary school students are getting hands-on learning through a first-year class.
Krystle Wagner
Mar 27, 2014

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.) class shifts learning from memorization to problem solving with project-based learning. Each week, the two Spring Lake schools’ kindergarten through fourth-grade students attend the 50-minute “special” like they would art, music or gym class.

“It’s fun, but also hard some times,” Holmes fourth-grader Inez Allard said.

During S.T.E.M. activities, students follow the design process of: state the problem, generate ideas, find a solution, build the item, evaluate, present results and share.

Fourth-grader Annabelle Warner said one of the more difficult projects was building a strong bridge out of 100 Popsicle sticks. The bridge had to be strong enough to hold a bucket of blocks.

Warner and Allard said S.T.E.M. class has taught them about teamwork and working through problems.

“I learned to never give up,” Allard said.

Currently, Holmes fourth-graders are building rockets as they learn about energy transfer. They plan to launch the rockets toward the end of the school year.

Abe Overway, the S.T.E.M. teacher at Holmes Elementary School, said the first-year program is going “fantastic.” He said it allows students to work through the first instinct of “it doesn’t work; I can’t do it.”

“I want for them to be problem solvers,” Overway said.

As they work on the projects, the students are assessed by the teachers through observation, listening as they collaborate and by asking them questions.

Overway said the most difficult part has been creating the curriculum, because there isn’t one for S.T.E.M. programs. Overway and Betsy Kipling, the S.T.E.M. teacher at Jeffers Elementary School, have researched and looked at other S.T.E.M. programs throughout the country as they develop their own.

To read the whole story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.




nice first picture lol


The importance of this kind of teaching can not be overstated. The skills these children are learning in this program are invaluable life skills that will help them in their jobs, careers, daily life, and relationships. Critical thinking and problem solving skills will enhance the quality of life for these school children now and in the future. Congratulations Abe Overway, S.T.E.M. teacher, Holmes Elementary, for your recognition of these all-important lessons. Best Wishes for continuing success in doing the good work to help insure a successful future for your students.


What a great first picture, indeed, that's my daughter. We're very proud of the stem learning at Holmes.

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