Teaching STEM Challenges Amidst Covid Challenges
STEM challenges are projects and lessons designed to get students to investigate, explore, design and test in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM programs improve problem-solving in all areas of life, and are accomplished best in an interactive environment. The gift of learning face-to-face has truly been appreciated this year.
St. Thomas More has worked tirelessly to make sure all students can safely be together for all subjects, including hands-on experiences in our C+STEM program. Instructors adjusted traditional protocols for the science lab, including physical distancing, minimizing exposure, and maintaining extra vigilance with disinfecting and sanitizing between each use of lab tools and materials. Extra time has been built into the schedule to accommodate these extra steps.
Gardening looked different this year, without full classes of students planting and tending each bed, and had a late start, but that didn’t slow us down! We had a lush, beautiful garden to look at each day and an abundance of produce to give to St. Vincent de Paul -- more than 330 pounds of fresh vegetables.
Rocketry this fall included grades 6-8, expanding on the program we started last spring during quarantine. Students began building at the start of 2020 and engaged in lessons on the basics of rocketry, gravity, flight, and making their own igniters. We now have 75 student rockets awaiting launch day.
All students in grades K-8 have multiple Lab Learner units aligned with NGSS standards (Next Generation Science Standards). The labs are fun, engaging and set a wonderful foundation for all sciences. Let’s not forget the dry ice or occasional exploding pumpkin experiments! The best part of C+STEM is student participation, and watching the reactions that “stem” from these activities.