Perhaps you’ve seen those cooking shows where a chef is challenged to make a meal with limited ingredients. Well, a similar challenge is shaping up at Walpole North Elementary School, but with pipe cleaners and straws instead of culinary ingredients included.
Students at Walpole North participate in weekly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) challenges. While in small groups, students from Grades 1 to 8 are challenged to building structures using only the materials provided. But, these structures must pass a test, such as being able to withstand wind or successfully carry a tennis ball.
“I love STEM challenges because they engage a variety of learners and allow them to make mistakes,” says Diane Henrique, Grade 3-4 Teacher at Walpole North. “In my class, we make it a point to celebrate our failures, and recognize them as part of our learning journey.”
These small STEM activities have allowed students to think differently about solving problems. It also provides an opportunity for classmates to practice teamwork, problem-solving and creative thinking.
“I believe STEM activities encourage student growth not only academically but also socially,” said Henrique. “It is a wonderful way to build community in our class.”
When asked about the activities, students seem just as excited about the STEM challenges.
“I like it because you work with a partner and make new friends,” said one student. “You get to try new things.”
“I like it because it involves Math and building things,” said another student.
Activities involving technology are an important part of Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan, and its increased use in classrooms provides many students with a point of entry to other subject areas they might find intimidating initially. It’s Success for Every Student in action.