Full STEAM Ahead in 3rd Grade

[If you’ve been a regular reader of this Grow Zone blog then you know that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Enegineering and Mathematics and is an integrated, cross cirricular approach to teaching that implements higher cognitive skills for students and enables them to inquire and use techniques used by professionals in the science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields.  The administration and staff at The Learning Center have taken STEM one step further by including “A” for art.  STEM has now become STEAM!  Your first introduction to STEAM is with this post from third grade teacher Ms. Stephanie. ]

 First:  We read a non-fiction book (Caldecott Medal winner) titled Snowflake Bentley, which is about the life of Wilson A. Bentley and the work he did photographing ice crystals in Vermont back in the 1800s and early 1900s.  The book lead into a discussion about magnifiers and how the camera in the 1800s depended upon an attached microscope to be able to take such detailed photographs of ice crystals.

Second: We talked about the intricacies of snow and how no two have ever been observed as being identical and how the power of ‘observation’ is important in Science (related to Snowflake Bentley).

Third: I introduced an activity where we would be making “snow” in class.  I introduced an observation sheet where the children had to observe the “snow” in powder form, count the number of drops it took to hydrate the powder, how much snow ½ teaspoon of the powder would make, etc.

Fourth:  I did a lesson on how to measure accurately and why it is important when conducting experiments, etc.  We then transitioned into a measuring lesson on 1/8, ¼, 1/3, ½, ¾, and 1 cup- how many 1/8 it took to equal 1 cup, how many ¼ it took, etc.  Then we moved into a similar lesson with teaspoons and tablespoons (had to use 1/8 teaspoon and 1/8 cup for the experiment). 

Fifth:  The children were given cups, powder, eye droppers, magnifiers, and a recording sheet.  They had to observe the powder before hydrating it, make predictions, feed the powder water, track their water amounts and make further observations after the powder was given water and turned into “snow.”  The children had to record each step on their experiment/observation sheets. We closed by making a gaint batch of snow for the class, the students were encouraged to share their observations and each child was given 2 cups of “snow” to take home and enjoy.

It was a lot of fun and the students LOVED it.


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