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Students gain hands on learning in S.T.E.M.

Krystle Wagner • Oct 31, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The second-floor Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M.) lab transformed into a creative workshop on Thursday morning.

For the past few class sessions, third-graders have been working to transform their ideas into cardboard arcade games through a recent S.T.E.M. project at Ferry and Voyager school.

The special is new to Grand Haven Area Public Schools this year. Students in young Fives through fourth grade meet 36 times for 50 minutes each.

After nine years in the classroom teaching and the increased demand on test prep, Ian Overway, S.T.E.M. teacher at Ferry and Voyager school, said he enjoys getting back into project-based learning and being a facilitator as students learn while researching and exploring.

During the recent project, third-graders interviewed Young Fives and kindergarten students about what games they liked to play. Students gathered their information and designed arcade games with the younger students in mind.

After the design phase, students built prototypes and received feedback from their classmates. Next, the younger students will have a chance to play the games.

Some students’ ideas have evolved throughout the process.

As Jaylee Burley added decorations to her team’s cardboard basketball hoop game, she explained their game originally started out as an obstacle course.

Since they didn’t have enough supplies to bring their idea to life, Burley, 8, said they voted to change the game.

Burley said the object of their game is to toss the balls through the hole in order to receive tickets for prizes.

“It was a pretty cool experience taking it from an obstacle course to a basketball hoop,” said third-grader Setra LaFond.

Third-graders Jordan Smith, Norma Kodi and Natalie Rymal turned a cardboard box into a bowling alley. The team cut one cardboard box in half and stretched it out, and then they turned water bottles into pins.

“It’s been lots of fun,”Smith said.

Throughout the course of the project, the group said they learned a lot about teamwork.

Without communicating and compromising, Kodi said they wouldn’t have been able to meet their deadline.

Overway said he knows students will continue to improve their persistence, communication, collaboration, resilience, adaptability and creative problem solving as the school year progresses.

“These skills will transfer into their core curriculum subjects and test scores. But more importantly, our kids will have the skills they will need to become a contributing member of society,” he said. “The skills previously mentioned will make them a highly qualified, effective and/or desirable candidate for any position/field they choose to pursue.”

In addition to receiving some classroom materials with the S.T.E.M. budget and donations, the classes also received some of their items through the school’s new recycling center.

Overway also created a recycling center to help the environment, but also to collect items for S.T.E.M. classes.

Students get involved in the center by weighing the material and charting how much is collected.

As the S.T.E.M. team continues to work with students, Overway said they look to grow partnerships with local businesses and manufacturers.

Overway said research has shown that not enough engineers are being produced, and they believe S.T.E.M. is the answer.

“We are looking for more businesses that are willing to come into the schools and collaborate with us (teachers) on projects that have real-world applications, that are engaging, developmentally appropriate, will help our students better understand the world around them and how it works,” he said.

S.T.E.M. classes are continuing to collect items for lessons. Some of those items include pipe cleaners, duct tape, sticky notes, paper towel, and more. A full list of S.T.E.M.-related and needed materials can be found online by visiting: ghstem.weebly.com.

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