STEAM + Project-Based Learning: Reals Solutions From Driving Questions (Transcript)
Ronnie: Boys and girls, what is inside of this bag? Air. You are going to see convection at its best.
Natasha: Now that we are a STEAM school, using project based learning as our primary instructional strategy, we see our students succeeding at the highest levels. They're interested in what's happening in the world. They're interested in their own learning and how they're going to apply that.
Ronnie: So here at Charles Drew Charter School, we are a STEAM school, with the emphasis on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. Our kids not only get the regular curriculum, but they also have classes like science lab with me, robotics, engineering, art, chorus, band.
Teacher: This is called a?
Sayj: I'm taking dance and orchestra right now.
Joshua: I like technology too.
Adia: I love science, and I like to learn about how things work.
Donya: Well, for us, project based learning and STEAM can't really be separated.
Abigail: Instead of teaching these skills and these disciplines in isolation, we collaborate and work together. Our students are making connections between these disciplines.
Donya: We know that the careers that are going to be available are in STEAM fields. We use project based learning to help our students to be successful in those careers.
Abigail: Project based learning is not just creating a project. It's not teaching theme units. It's solving a problem. The project is a product that students create in order to solve a problem. It's a project that needs to have an audience. It needs to have a lasting impact.
Donya: So across the entire building, teams collaborate to plan project based learning instruction.
So ideally, what we're going to do is look at these essential elements.
We focus on one project based learning unit that integrates all of the subject areas each quarter. The teachers work together to look at their standards, look at what's relevant for our students, what's happening in the world, and design a driving question.
Janale: I like it a lot, because there's one question, one big picture. I like big pictures, but I also like that you can ask little questions within the big question.
Abigail: A big standard in third grade is teaching about heat. We wanted to see if students could figure out a problem within their community that they could solve using heat. We immediately thought of Snowpocalypse. Heat played an important role, whether it was related to the weather, or how Atlantans coped.
Adia: There was just coldness and snow and ice, and so heat plays a really good part to keep us warm.
Abigail: We eventually arrived at the question of, how can we better prepare for Atlanta's changing weather?
Natasha: We went in this direction because we knew that it affected a lot of their families, it affected our school.
Abigail: My students researched the event. I brought in some community members to just share their stories.
Woman: We had so many people stranded. We had students who were on the bus, ten, eleven o'clock at night, and we was trying to contact parents, just to let them know where their child was.
Abigail: They couldn't believe some of the stuff they heard and that to me was this very organic way that they arrived at this problem and this feeling of, "I want to do something about it."
We are going to be thinking of some ways to help Atlantans better prepare for weather like this.
Donya: The teachers may have designed a project that's going to guide the students in a direction, but the students have a big role helping to design products that will solve those problems.
Melissa: My class came up with some type of safety case that would help them if they were stranded. So they will do certain little mini projects along the way, like a solar oven. They'll talk about insulation, they'll test different materials to see what are good conductors of heat and to see how do these everyday materials fit into your kit.
Girl: Wooden spoon, plastic spoon, metal spoon.
Melissa: Does it feel cold, does it feel hot?
Boy: Feel this, feel this.
Melissa: Record your observations. What about the metal spoon, Destiny?
Destiny: The metal spoon got hotter.
Melissa: So that was the hottest?
Natasha: One of the questions that they said that they needed to know was, well how was heat produced? Mister Thomas came up with the idea to bring the entire third grade out.
Ronnie: Heat energy can be transferred in how many ways?
Ronnie: Three, conduction, radiation and convection. The heat from the sun will transfer energy to the air inside this bag. Once the molecules in the air inside the bag get warmed up, the solar bag is going to rise into the air.
Children: [excited screaming]
Abigail: Our commitment to STEAM has shaped how we do project based learning here at Drew. Technology, science, engineering, that all factors into what we're looking for the students to be able to do when they're answering this driving question.
Donya: We see our students collaborating naturally to solve problems, not just the ones presented to them by teachers, but the ones that they just face every day.