Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spotlight on STEM

Photo by Dell's Official Flickr Page,
One reason I love UNI so much is the opportunity to attend a wide variety of events right here on campus. One of these events was the Spotlight on STEM Day, and I had the privilege of attending! If you don't know what STEM is, click here.)

Spotlight on STEM Day features award-winning science projects by pre K-12 classrooms around Iowa. These science projects integrate technology and highlight the challenges and joys of incorporating science, math, and technology. Presenters had table displays for viewing throughout the day, and there were demonstrations and presentations held throughout the day.

I was only able to stay for a little while, so I was able to walk through the table displays and attend one of the presentations. The presentation that I attended (and table display that I viewed the most thoroughly) was about a high school Earth Science class that were making their own weather tools. The class had made their own barometer (air pressure), anemometer (wind speed), and thermometer (temperature). It was fascinating to see the students get so excited about the tools they had made as they explained their process and challenges as they designed their weather tools. The class used an inquiry-based model for instruction, so their teacher made it clear that his class was doing the work while he acted as a guide to make sure they were meeting standards, staying on task, etc. I thought that it was incredible that these students took such initiative to come up with a question and solution like "How do weather measurement tools work?" Instead of researching about them, they researched AND built their own! The group also explained how they modified their tools when they had problems and inaccuracies in their designs and results. 

Overall, I was just really impressed with the deep thinking that was going on in this rural classroom! Though the school was small and this particular class only had 6 students, they did an amazing job of integrating technology with science and math. I wish more of my classes in high school had been structured in this way!