STEM in the Primary Grades
The future of science depends on your child’s imagination.
When I was in primary school, science was not my favorite subject… not even in the top 5. From what I remember, we read a lot, took notes, and participated in teacher-centered activities. The study of science became, for me, a very bland and uninteresting topic.
Fast-forward to our present day. The rise of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and later STEAM (with the addition of art), has changed the face of education with its primary goal to bring interdisciplinary subjects to life using a simple algorithm: imagine, create, learn, innovate.
Educators are utilizing more tools to deepen our students’ understanding of our world. Throughout the year, my second graders explore a variety of scientific topics by participating in multiple labs and STEM/STEAM inspired projects. By the end of the year, my students will have studied:
- plant life by growing radish seeds in their very own (DIY) greenhouse and recording observations in a journal.
- objects in motion by cooperatively racing a balloon reindeer to observe force.
- Earth’s past by going on a “virtual field trip” of California’s La Brea Tar Pits.
- animals by writing a report which is later turned into a booklet.
- fossils using easy to acquire materials to create shell impressions on clay.
Not only are STEM lessons engaging and enjoyable, but students are working with materials to build and deepen comprehension of multiple subject matters. In short, they are learning so much more by participating in interactive, hands-on activities or “labs” than any book could teach. Now stepping into the role of educator, science has become one of my favorite subjects to teach. One day, while studying fossils, a student asks me if we would be able to bring dinosaurs back to life, then proceeded to tell me a detailed step-by-step plan describing exactly how they would extract DNA from fossils to help bring the extinct animals back to life. Shocked, and impressed, I told them that with their dedication and interest in fossils, they possibly could. This is what we are striving for as STEM educators, where in this world of imagining possibilities and asking”what ifs” comes about pioneering change, creativity, and innovation.
Celina Baldizon - Grade 2 Teacher