Young Steam Inventors And the Art of Play: Naturalists, Inventors and Creators

This is the first post of the new year! I’m excited about where the rest of our learning journey is going to take us –  inside and outside – where Science, Creativity, Literacy, and Art Come out to play.

“We must give childhood back to children. Children must be allowed to follow their inborn drives to play and explore so that they can grow into intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically strong and resilient adults.”

~Dr. Peter Gray, Boston College, author of “Free to Learn”

In December, I interviewed your children about their learning and this is what they wanted me to share with you!

Preschool and Kindergarten students

Preschool and Kindergarten students wanted me to share pictures of their “Scientist, Scientist What Do You See” books. They wanted to share our new exploration center where they look at objects using microscopes. Below are some of the documentation photographs of their work/play.

Worm study!

Animal Tracking in our neighborhood and recording in our science notebooks.

Building and constructing animal habitats Preschool and kindergarten. Two drawings from their books.

Connecting Literacy and Science to the Study of Animals

Scientists, Scientist What Do You See! Books and outdoor explorations

Microscopes and Exploration Center

First Grade Students

First grade students were eager to share their final “Creative Weather Gizmos” project that they designed, built, tested and retested for the final presentation. We read two books about inventor Izzy Gizmo and Her Contraptions, and a book about Leonardo da Vinci titled Neo Leo.

Students were able to step into the shoes of engineers, architects, artists and inventors after studying the weather.

Below are some of the documentation photographs:

Weather Gizmos-Creating, writing their ideas and beginning the engineering process:

Weather Gizmo science notebooks and engineering process

Weather Gizmo Constructions begin!

Onward Young Steam Inventors of 2020!

This year, the BPS Science Department has been renamed to the Department of Science, Technology, and Engineering (STE).  They have developed a scope and sequence for Science, Technology and Engineering Teachers (that’s our new title) that is aligned with The Focus on First Grade Curriculum. The goal across the district is for consistency and collaboration between The STE and Early Childhood Departments.

STE teachers and First Grade teachers will study the FOSS Plants and Animals unit for the next 8 weeks, and will all use the same weekly focus questions.  Following that, our last unit of the year will be FOSS Sound and Light.

The new year for our Young Steam Inventors will begin with two new and exciting Foss Science Curriculum Units for all grades. During the winter months, Preschool and Kindergarten will explore materials and physics, while the first graders will study plants and animals.

Our Preschool and Kindergarten YSI students will begin the FOSS Unit titled Materials and Motion. As material engineers, we will be studying the properties of different kinds of wood, paper, and fabric. We will investigate how wood and paper can be processed into products. We will study how fabrics are made and discover how they interact with water. We will talk about our school-wide recycling program. You can enrich this experience by having your child participate in the recycling of paper, metal, glass, and plastic at home on trash day! We will also investigate motion – how to get something to start moving and make it stop. We will change the strength of pushes and pulls on rolling objects to see how that affects speed, and we will look at how we can modify direction of moving objects to meet goals.

Here is what the Grade 1 YSI students will be investigating over the next eight weeks in the FOSS Plants and Animals unit:

Week 1: How can we observe animals in our school yard? We will be observing Animals in the School Yard.

Week 2: How do we identify animals and plants in our schoolyard? We will spend extra outside time with STE Teachers looking for organisms.

Week 3: How does the season affect which animals we see in the sky? What Is happening in our homeroom class terrarium? Students will be observing their classroom terrariums in the dark (Foss Extension).

Week4: How do squirrels’ behaviors survive in the winter?  We will observe Squirrels in Nature.

Week 5: What are some of the ways animal parents feed and protect their young? Students will make a pitfall trap (from the science extensions).

Week 6: How are some animals able to survive without their parents? Students will conduct a Foss Curriculum ICheck video/activity.

Week 7: How do animal structures help them survive and thrive? This is FOSS Investigation 1 part 1: Growing Grass Lawns.

Week 8:  What can people learn from animals’ structures? This is FOSS Investigation 1 Part 2: Mowing Lawns.

Young Steam Inventors will be investigating new plants, including growing plants from a seed to a plant. They will observe structures of plants; communicate discoveries orally, in writing, and through drawings; and compare the development of plants over time. We will look at the needs of plants and animals. In their homeroom classrooms they will make terrariums.

When we return to school, we will be spending as much time outside as the weather permits. Please have your children dress warmly with hats, gloves and especially rain/ snow boots! 

Young Naturalists are excited about the possibilities of what we will find!

Wishing you Peace in the New Year,



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