3rd Grade STEM — Building “Robotic” Hands

What can you build with a pile of paper, string and paperclips? “Robotic” hands.

Third grade students at The Learning Center Charter School did exactly that in conjunction with what they were learning about in science during the month of September.

Third grade teacher, Gina Stafford, and elementary science teacher, Emily Willey, wanted students to research, design, construct, and troubleshoot ways to build moving hands as a means to better understand the human skeletal system.

Stafford said, “Designing and building are foundational components of STEM education. Plus, those activities really force a student to take a deep look at how things work.”

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math and is a guiding philosophy of education at the charter school.   The school takes it a step further by including entrepreneurship, arts and agriculture – E-STEAM.

Stafford added, “It is one thing to read about something in a book and another to delve deep and understand a topic. Building these moving hands has allowed my students to comprehend how bones and muscles work together to move our bodies. Plus the kids had a total blast.”

Other Seasonal Celebrations Around Campus at Halloween Time – Pumpkin Carving and Halloween Computer Coding

In addition to our annual Makers Mash that took place last week on Halloween, our students founds lots of other ways to celebrate the season as well.  Students in third grade decorated pumpkins and middle schoolers across the board did fun computer coding with a Halloween theme.

Apple Crazy in 2nd Grade

As part of their study on Johnny Appleseed, students in second grade had to learn how to read a recipe.  Students learned what recipes are, why recipes have ingredients as well as suggestions for cooking supplies.  They also learned how a person cooking must follow the step by step written directions when assembling the recipe.

Students were able to make a recipe called Apple Smiles where they gathered ingredients and supplies and followed the directions on assembling their Apple Smiles snacks.

Along with recipes and making Apple snacks, the students learned all about the life of John Chapman and made an Apple Fact Tree as part of their Guided Reading time.

Clearly, everyone  had fun learning about Johnny Appleseed as well as how to read a recipe.

Scenes from Makers Mash 2018

Each year at Halloween time, our school puts on a party for Makers. We call it our annual Makers Mash and it is an event that student and staff look forward to each year. Students make decorated/carved pumpkins, monsters from upcycled materials, and come dressed in costumes in all sorts of categories such as traditional, upcycled, yearly themed and group categories. Judges are on hand to pick winners in a wide variety of categories and even award cash prizes. This yearly Maker event gets the creative juices flowing and gets our students thinking about our annual School Maker Faire that will be held in March. Such fun!

4th Grade STEM — Energy


Recently fourth graders began their energy types unit by working with different STEM sets creating vehicles and a variety of electric circuits. Students collaborated in groups to figure out solutions to problems as they interacted with these much loved kits.

1st Grade Science — All About Plants

First graders have been learning all about plants and what they need to survive. They have experimented with germinating radish seeds which created much excitement! They even transplanted their radish sprouts into the garden for a future fall harvest.

5th Grade Science — Solids, Liquids, Gases

Fifth graders have been learning about the different states of matter — solid, liquid and gas. Ms. Jay read the book “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” by Dr. Seuss pausing at the creation of oobleck.  She then told them that they were going to create their own oobleck from cornstarch and water. The students had a blast and learned that oobleck is a “non-Newtonian” substance similar to magma.

5th Grade STEM — Building a Display

Fifth grade students were recently given the challenge of building a tower to display a 3D printed plastic skull in their classroom. It had to be 24 inches tall and hold the skull for 30 seconds without collapsing. Students were given 10 straws and 50 index cards to do the project. By designing, testing, and redesigning, students built impressive display structures and thoroughly enjoyed the project.

Every Student Exposed to E-STEAM Education at TLC

Second graders at The Learning Center Charter School engineer, build, test, design and troubleshoot every day. Why? Because STEM education extends to every student at the school no matter the age.

Second grade teacher, Stephanie Hopper, engages her 7 and 8 year old students with STEM projects regularly.  This fall she will have her students build pumpkin wagons, design scarecrows with specific construction standards that the students must meet, and engineer “turkey hideouts” to avoid the Thanksgiving table.  The activities are seasonal but also fit squarely into the school’s STEM approach to education.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.  Our school takes it a step further by including entrepreneurship, arts and agriculture – E-STEAM.

Mary Jo Dyre, Executive Director, says, “Cultivating an E-STEAM culture is the guiding philosophy for our school and within that we offer an amazing array of learning opportunities for our students – each and every student from kindergarten through eighth grade.”

The STEM activities that Hopper integrates into her everyday lessons are a prime example of that approach. “My students plan, design, engineer, test, and reconstruct each and every day. It’s just what we do.” Hopper adds that no student is too young to be introduced and challenged by this approach. “I’m always encouraging them to expand and improve upon a design. I ask how they can make it better, wider, taller, or hold more weight. The students always rise to the challenge too,” said Hopper.