What the….STEM?

I’m taking part in a 3-year program that is a partnership between our district, University of the Pacific, and the Teacher’s College of San Joaquin that is a focus on STEM education: Mathematics with Added Science, Technology, and Engineering for Relevance, a.k.a. MASTER (you can view our website here).  I’m a week-and-a-half into the first two weeks and I’m in love.  I’m looking at this with two sets of lenses: teacher and parent.  I was so enthralled within the first two days that I spoke with the principal of our new K-3 STEM charter school about transferring my first-grader there.  The focus on problem-solving,  21st century skills, and gearing children toward careers in science and engineering fields is something that I know my son will thrive on.  But, I digress….

On day 6, we participated in an edcamp-style rotation called Engineering and Tech Day.  We signed up the previous week via Google Docs for the three 2 hour sessions we wanted to engage in.  I chose to learn about Scratch, Breadboard Circuitry, and Makeshift Robotics.  While all were very cool, I (with my two sets of lenses) really loved the Makeshift Robotics.

The idea was to use the any or all of the given supplies (plastic cups, duct tape, popsicle sticks, markers, clips, motor, batteries with pack, and various decorations) to create a robot that would create a piece of art.  Here are some examples below (credit to Maryanne Friend and Lori Green for the pictures, which you can also view on the Lincoln Master website):


Lori Green and Sylvia Turner, leaders of the MASTER program, testing their robotic skills.

My partner, Karen, and I were so involved in the “tweaking” part of creating our robot, that we didn’t pay much attention to how it looked–and unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of it (probably for the best…it was pretty ugly aesthetically challenged).  But you get the idea from the above photos of other projects what we were trying to create.  There was so much inquiry, engineering, and problem-solving going on with just this small project.  I could have easily spent an entire day working to perfect our robot.  As it was, we had an hour to plan and build, and we sucked that up in no time flat.  

All in all it was a fun day, and I learned a lot.  I’m more excited than I have been in years to start the new school year!

One thought on “What the….STEM?

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