National STEAM Day at OLPH School in Ellicott City, MD
Tuesday, November 8th was National STEAM Day, which represents an intentional focus in the academic disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. According to National Days of the Year’s website, “National STEM/STEAM Day was founded in 2015 by MGA Entertainment, with the intention of inspiring and encouraging students to be more involved in these fields of education, study and work.” At Our Lady of Perpetual Help, STEAM education is not just reserved for one day a year, rather is integrated into all classrooms through many subjects that make direct connections to these disciples. OLPH forms confident learners and faith-filled leaders through relevant education that begins to prepare their students for jobs that don’t even exist yet! Many careers today didn’t exist 20 years ago and the world is moving even faster today. “Countries that place an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics are the countries where innovation happens — plain and simple.” (DaysoftheYear.com)
What’s Been Happening this Year in STEAM
Starting in Pre-Kindergarten, four-year-olds have been discussing the science behind buoyancy through a Halloween activity involving objects that sink or float. Each student chose an object where they used observation skills to determine the qualities that would influence the object’s buoyancy. Using those qualities, the students made a prediction by imagining what would happen to the object when it was placed into the water. Finally, they tested their hypothesis by getting wet and seeing whether their object floated or sunk.
Kindergarten has been studying Living Things in Science. They built animal shelters and discussed what materials might work best for a roof to keep the animals warm and dry. Students tested paper, tinfoil, wax paper, and plastic wrap. All of the materials were successful except for paper, which eventually collapsed. They discussed real building materials used in roofs as well. It was an exciting experiment for these budding scientists.
Sometimes students learn together with their buddies. The 2nd and 4th grade classes joined efforts at the garden on campus. Together they picked tomatoes, onions, green peepers, and garlic. They cleaned out the garden and learned about composting. Then they planted milkweed seeds and created oobleck (slime) together.
“Science is not always neat and tidy. It was an afternoon of exploration and they all enjoyed themselves.” – Mrs. Lake, 2nd Grade teacher
1st grade teamed up with their 7th grade buddies to explore an age-old scientific instrument: the microscope. OLPH has a classroom set of microscopes used for science experiments, usually by middle schoolers. But, the 7th grade wanted to introduce this useful tool to encourages excitement in exploring God’s creation. First grade students were especially excited to see the slide of a wing of a dragonfly.
Arrived this Week
This week, through a grant award to the school, OLPH received nine new interactive smart boards completing the collection for every classroom to upgrade their technology. These “super-sized” tablets enhance classroom learning through building motion into lessons, creating interactive reviews before tests, enhancing literacy with visual aids, and boosting attentiveness.
“[Smart Boards] make differentiated learning much easier because teachers are able to accommodate different learning styles. Visual learners are able to observe the whiteboard, while tactile learners can learn by touching the board.” TeachHub.com
While this new technology is installed into each classroom, teachers will receive training on how to utilize the smart boards and make use of the added resources offered through their online curriculum. Watch for more stories soon!
STEAM careers continue to grow in number and expand in scope. The jobs of today will look different or maybe won’t even exist by the time this generation enters the work force. At OLPH School, the next three years will have a focus in growing the “A” in STEAM, the Arts. With a gifted staff able to uncover the talent in budding creatives, the school will expand offerings in fine, performing and graphic arts. Students will have more opportunities during the school day and after through clubs to explore and grow creative interests.
At the same time, OLPH will continue exploring the world through science, expanding their use of technology, applying their creativity and innovation through engineering and sharpening their math skills. All to prepare them for a world we can’t even imagine yet!