STEAM: the genesis of critical thinkers at Memorial Park

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 10/10/18

Students at Memorial Park Elementary School are completing a number of hands-on activities to develop their critical thinking skills.The school is making a concerted effort to integrate STEAM …

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STEAM: the genesis of critical thinkers at Memorial Park

Posted

Students at Memorial Park Elementary School are completing a number of hands-on activities to develop their critical thinking skills.

The school is making a concerted effort to integrate STEAM concepts into classroom education. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities motivate students to draw on their problem solving skills, and the approach is being used across the country.

STEAM is still referred to as STEM; however, arts has been added to the educational approach recently.

Memorial Park Principal Eric Rigsby praised the school's teachers for finding ways to incorporate STEAM activities.  

"It lends itself very easily to science classrooms and math classrooms, but I've seen it in reading and language arts," Rigsby said. "It can really be used across the curriculum."

One group of students at Memorial Park participated in a seed dispersal project as part of the STEAM curriculum. Students were assigned to create a model depicting how their particular seed traveled and present their project to the class. 

A second-grade classroom provided students with Legos and other items to build their own invention, and some third-graders created models of their classroom — all while learning directional skills.

Other students crafted a spaghetti tower, and another group was assigned to create a structure strong enough to hold one of their textbooks.

"The big thing for us is the engineering component — having kids be able to work together to solve a problem and being able to take a framework and expand upon it," Rigsby said.

He said one of the greatest benefits of STEAM is how students learn to problem solve by working together and drawing on their varying skill sets. 

"Our kids love it. ... I think our kids like the freedom of knowing 'somebody didn't plan out every step for me,'" he said.

STEAM is incorporated in all grade levels, according to Rigsby, and he said Memorial Park will likely seek STEAM accreditation in the future.  

Just last year, Memorial Park was named a National Blue Ribbon School for their demonstrated academic success. Rigsby said STEAM projects for students and the continued mantra of critical thinking are helping the school become even stronger. 

"I think our school does a very good job of holding our students accountable for their learning," he said. "Our teachers do a wonderful job of setting the bar high for our students."