Onward Young STEAM Inventors – Welcome Back to School!


  “Science talk leads to understanding and helps young children process what they are learning. Yet talk, like reading and writing, is a major motor- I could even say the major motor-of intellectual development.”

 ~ Calkins (2000), p. 226

For our first week of the Spring 2019 semester, we continued to learn about engineering and the engineering design process. We did this by stepping into the shoes of an engineer and discussing their job, the steps that engineers use to solve problems (the design process, and how they record their thinking. I encourage you to read the following articles for the kinds of research I base my practices in:

1) “Putting the ‘E’ in STEM for the Littlest Learners”

2) “A Look at Science and Engineering Indicators in the U.S.”

Lelani (preschool student pictured below) said to me, “Hey, Ms. Alicia, I’ve always been an engineer, but I just didn’t know it. I’m an artist, too. I’m going to change the world.”  You can see her working with her classmate problem-solving an engineering challenge  based on the children’s book, Ricky the Rock That Couldn’t Roll.


Students across the grades used their problem-solving skills through the engineering process to figure out how to turn a flat rock into a round circle or sphere that would roll down a hill that they would construct. This week, we will continue to use the story, Ricky, the Rock that Couldn’t Roll, to explore with clay. Students will write story frames in their science journals using speech bubbles to explain their scientific thinking.

Check out photos from the first two days back!

Engineering Challenges Based on the Children’s Book, Ricky the Rock That Couldn’t Roll

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Preschool Engineers Problem-Solving with Maze Bots; Creating and Constructing Mazes Using the Engineering Design Process

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Girl Engineers Constructing and Problem-Solving on How to Get Their Robot Through the Maze Without Having to “Touch” It

Here are the other explorations we will be making this week:

Kindergarten and Pre-K Young STEAM Inventors

We will dive into our next Foss Science unit  on “Wood and Paper”. Young STEAM Inventors will be introduced to a variety of woods and papers in a systematic way. They will observe the properties of these materials and discover what happens when they are subjected to a number of tests and interactions with other materials. Young STEAM Inventors will learn that wood and paper can be recycled to create new forms of paper or wood that have new properties. Finally, they use what they knew about properties of these marvelous materials as they change wood and paper into a variety of products.

Pre-K students will also explore a STEAM curriculum unit developed by The Mass Audubon Society named “Tree-mendous Trees”. They will investigate the following questions:
  •  What are the parts of a tree? •  How are trees classified? •  How does a tree grow? •  How does a tree make pine cones or acorns? •  Why do leaves change color in the fall? •  Who lives in trees? •  How do trees help us?

Students will also continue to explore through open centers that are based on their interests.

Grade 1 Young STEAM Inventors

Our first graders will launch into a Smithsonian Science Unit entitled “Liquids and Solids”. Students will expand their awareness of the properties of solids and liquids in the YSI Makerspace and within the schoolyard. They will discover that some properties of solids, such as size, color, and shape, are readily identifiable. We will observe properties unique to liquids hat include viscosity and drop shape. As their work continues, students will discover that other properties of solids and liquids – such as magnetic attraction and ability to sink or float – must be determined on the basis of scientific tests that often involve the use of science tools.

Our investigations will introduce two key concepts of physical science:  1) Solids and liquids represent two states of matter, and 2) Each state of matter has properties that they will recognize. YSI will compare and contrast solids and liquids, sort solids into groups on the basis of properties, conduct experiments and communicate their ideas in writing, drawing, and scientific discussion.


~ Alicia C.


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