Greater Johnstown School District has created cutting edge learning opportunities for the students at West Side and East Side Elementary. The students from Kindergarten through 5th grade are experiencing an exciting hands-on learning approach through Technology Education courses. The approach is to incorporate information and processes from “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics). Students also gain experience with communication skills in relation to English Language Arts.
Kindergarten and First Grade students will engage in a LEGO Education design and problem solving approach. Students are presented with various design briefs and are required to investigate, design and build a model of a solution that meets the given specifications and parameters. Students will solve specific problems using the Technology and Engineering Design Loop process. Additional “STEM” concepts such as Geometric shapes, categorization, spatial relationships, counting numbers, multiples, symmetry, balance and explaining things from the natural world versus the manmade world are incorporated into the curriculum to guide students’ successes.
Students will be using the LEGO Education “Learn to Learn” product, which uses the philosophy of “Edutainment” meaning students are learning while they are having fun. This approach uses the “4c process” including: connect with their curiosity and their desire to learn; construct something functional and meaningful to the student; contemplate with other students and the teacher about what was learned from their experience; and continue to apply their new knowledge to new challenges.
Second Grade students will engage in an advanced LEGO Education “STEM” experience. They will be learning how to inquire, model, apply, investigate and analyze the operation of simple and compound machines found in everyday life such as gears, wheels and axles, levers, pulleys, wedges and incline planes. It is important for students to understand these “STEM” principles in order for them to design, model, build and understand systems such as robotics, transportation, manufacturing and construction systems in their future. The materials and curriculum promote an enjoyable, but challenging classroom environment in which students can develop skills such as creative problem solving, communication of ideas, and teamwork. The activities lead students to use observation, reasoning, prediction and critical thinking.
The International Technology and Engineering Education (ITEEA) Standards addressed include:
Standard 8: Students will develop an understanding of the attributes of design;
Standard 11: Students will develop abilities to apply the design process;
Standard 10: Students will develop a role of troubleshooting, research & development, invention/innovation & experimentation in problem solving.
The Third, Fourth and Fifth Grade students will be introduced to the “Youth Touch Program,” which uses a hands-on technology / robotics system to integrate “STEM” education with existing Science and Mathematics curriculum to support the Common Core Standards. Students will engage in higher level thinking processes to gain real world experience with various robotic systems.
Some of the Mathematical concepts that students will be exploring hands-on include: number sense, absolute values, the number line, coordinates, X,Y, and Z axis movement, Algebraic adding and subtracting, angles/degrees manipulation, measurement and much more. Some of the hands-on Scientific concepts include: friction, gravity, center of gravity, sensors, inertia, weight, speed, pressure, hydraulics, computer science, robotic programming and much more. Students will be required to engage in critical thinking, creative problem solving, teamwork and explaining outcomes.
The Program will challenge students intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally. The goal of the program is to deepen and enhance students' learning processes and to increase student achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and English Language Arts.
Students will also be presented with other challenging hands-on problem solving opportunities requiring them to utilize higher level thinking skills toward developing optimum solutions. Students will use limited everyday resources to complete the challenges within designated time constraints. They will engage in the Technology and Engineering Design Loop Process where they will: explain the problem, brainstorm ideas, select a potential solution, design it, build a prototype, test it, see if it works, make changes if necessary, and communicate their results. “STEM” concepts complimented with students’ effort will play a vital role in the successes experienced by the students.
The Common Core Standards addressed include: PA SAS: 3.4.5.C1: Explain how the design process is a purposeful method of planning practical solutions to problems; 3.4.5.C.2: Describe how design, as a dynamic process of steps, can be performed in different sequences and repeated; 3.4.5.C.3: Identify how invention and innovation are creative ways to turn ideas into real things; 3.4.5.D.1: Identify ways to improve a design solution.