Second grade students at The Learning Center Charter School learned about weather by immersing themselves in a hands-on E-STEAM activity designing and making anemometers.
E-STEAM stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts and agriculture, and math and is a guiding educational philosophy at the charter school. An anemometer is an instrument for measuring the speed of the wind.
Second graders at the school studied weather patterns, climate, and seasons as well as weather instruments used to measure properties of weather.
“Weather is an important science standard for second graders in North Carolina,” said Emily Willey, elementary science teacher at the school. “Designing and building our own tools for measuring wind speed engaged students deeply in the weather study and had students excited to learn more.”
Willey added that students also made windsocks to measure the direction of the wind and used thermometers to accurately measure temperature. Students also learned about barometers, Doppler radar satellites, and weather balloons as important tools to predict weather patterns.
Teamwork and collaboration were at its best among the primary classes at The Learning Center Charter School as students in kindergarten through second grade celebrated Native American Heritage Month in November.
Each grade level represented a different Native American Tribe across the nation and studied their tribe in-depth. The unit ended with a pow-wow among all the grades.
Kindergarten represented the Woodland tribe of the Wampanoag. The Wampanoag was the first tribe to meet the Pilgrims. Kindergarten students learned the Wampanoag taught the pilgrims how to survive in their new land and they were also the tribe that celebrated the first Thanksgiving.
First Grade students represented the Southeast region as the Cherokee tribe. They learned the Cherokee language and writing system was invented by Sequoyah, a famous Cherokee. First Graders also learned how the Cherokee used natural resources to make their homes, canoes, jewelry, and clothing.
Second grade students represented the Plains as the Lakota Sioux. Students learned how the Lakota were nomads and buffalo hunters who traveled around the Great Plains. They also learned the Lakota were great warriors, like Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse who defeated Colonel Custer in the Battle of Little Big- Horn famously known as ‘Custer’s Last Stand’.
As part of the culminating pow-wow, students created Native American costumes, jewelry, and instruments. Students paraded around the campus to authentic Native American music. At the pow-wow each class shared with the others facts about the tribe they represented. The students were even able to sample cornbread made by the hands of the Wampanoag (kindergarten). The Cherokee (first grade) shared Tuya Gadu, delicious bread made with sweet potatoes, corn and sweetened with maple syrup.
First grade students at The Learning Center Charter School used nature, reading lessons, and E-STEAM to make holiday ornaments as part of their studies leading up to Christmas break.
E-STEAM stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, art and agriculture, and math.
The students read books as a class and independently on winter and winter animals for days leading up to the project. Students then collected berries, leaves, moss, and flowers from the school’s Outdoor Learning Center. While foraging for these supplies, students learned which plants and berries stay alive during winter and what characteristics they have that allow them to do so. They also learned which animals eat berries and use moss and leaves for nests.
First grade teacher Katie Grider said, “Each school day we spend as much time as possible outside and finding ways to teach lessons and engage students in hands-on learning outside the four walls of our classroom is key to a deeper understanding of the subject matter.”
Grider added that not only does being outdoors encourage physical activity, fitness, and health, but it also provides a living laboratory for students to explore, experiment, interact and collaborate.
After collecting the items from outdoors, students made ornaments by filling cups with the items and water and allowing them to freeze. The ornaments were then hung on a tree on campus.
Second grade students studied the Lakota Sioux Tribe both as part of social studies and Native American Heritage month in November. Students made Teepee Treats to celebrate all they learned about the tribe.
One of the most important things students learned about the tribe was that they were nomadic and lived in Teepees, which were easy to put up and take down.
Seventh grade students learned about force and motion in a fun hands-on way. Students designed, engineered, built, and troubleshooted both roller coasters and catapults!
Building and testing both catapults and roller coasters was a good way to learn about the relationship between force, mass and acceleration.
Students also learned about accuracy, precision, and angles.
As a result, students are now able to describe how force affects the motion of a projectile, explain and compare the meanings of accuracy and precision, and explain the optimum angle for launching a projectile the farthest distance. Plus, the students had a total blast.
Fourth grade students participated in an extended Thanksgiving project that had them programming computers to make tiny robots do what they wanted them to do.
Students used Ozobots which are little toy robots that blends the physical and digital worlds — and teach kids programming. Ozobots can identify lines, colors, and codes on both digital surfaces, such as an iPad, and physical surfaces, such as paper.
Ask a first grade student at The Learning Center Charter School where their favorite classroom is and they will tell you outside. That is because students at the school spend time outdoors daily learning everything from math and science to social students and language arts.
Elementary science teacher Emily Willey takes her students outside at every possible opportunity. This fall she has had her first grade students outside participating in fall activities as students planted pansies to learn about cold weather crops. Students also donated old clothes and helped make a scarecrow for the garden by gathering leaves and stuffing the scarecrow.
“Being outside engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn,” said Willey. She added that even though students loved playing in the leaves and getting their hands dirty in the garden, the time was also spent learning about weather, why some plants can withstand cold temperatures better than others, and autumn cultural activities.
“Our E-STEAM curriculum is taught using Project Based Learning activities that take place in a variety of spaces, both indoor and outdoor, on campus,” said Willey.