We are excited to announce that the PBS Kids’ show HERO ELEMENTARY premiers globally on Monday, June 1, 2020

HERO ELEMENTARY is a school for budding superheroes, where kids learn to master their innate powers, like flying and teleportation, while exploring science along the way. HERO ELEMENTARY aims to give children ages 4 to 7 the tools to solve problems by thinking and acting like scientists and igniting their natural curiosity and empathy.

This week you can watch Hero Elementary at these times:

Monday           June 1: 8:00pm

Tuesday,         June 2: 4:00am

Friday,             June 5: 7:00pm

Saturday,         June 6: 7:00pm

Sunday,           June 7: 37:00pm

Monday,          June 8  3:00am

Hero Elementary and Our Young Steam Inventors

In January, a group of our students at the East Boston Early Education Center began piloting this series and engaging in hands-on lessons.  Seyni, Miranda, Ryan, Ritaj, Miguel, Jad, Irma, and Ramy worked very hard testing the materials for PBS. They developed their literacy skills by reading books, and writing and reflecting in their science journals.  They also collaborated to solve problems using their superpowers of science to investigate, observe, make predictions, and figure out solutions.

Ramy and Miguel create code to get onto the Hero Elementary platform.

3-Kids learning how to log on to the Hero Elementary Platform

Jad uses a stylus to log in to his Hero Elementary account.

Collaborating with each other on Hero Elementary hands-on lessons

1-Kids eating snack before the program starts

Snack time!  Hard-working scientists need fuel for brain power!

HERO ELEMENTARY games will be available on pbskids.org and on the free PBS KIDS Games App, along with clips and full episodes streaming across PBS KIDS’ video platforms, including the free PBS KIDS Video App.

Inspiration, Culture, Wonder and Curiosity Came Out to Play!


1-This is the main photo for this post “This is the Brown Girls Treehouse where girls like me get to play.”

“This is the Brown Girls’ Treehouse where girls like me get to play.”

February was a special month where we honored and celebrated Black History Month and International Women’s and Girl’s Science Day. We read many books and explored different science/stem and art wonderings. Our Young Steam Inventors were fascinated and excited to connect with other children around the world celebrating International Women’s and Girls Science Day and Black History Month.

Preschool and Kindergarten

Our study of Wood and Materials started with exploring the process of how a tree in the woods becomes a chair that we sit in or blocks that we use in our block space. We explored and asked many questions like, “what happens when plywood gets wet?” and “how is plywood made?”.

We wondered what would happen when we attached large numbers of paper clips to smaller pieces of wood in tubs of water.

To end our study of wood students followed the engineering process to design, build and sketch treehouses using different types of wood. Kindergarten students sketched in their science notebooks and preschoolers drew their ideas out on white art paper and displayed in their classrooms.

Pre-K students show off their engineering skills.


Kindergarten Treehouses and Sketches


Preschool and Kindergarten Reading about, Sketching, and Building Treehouses


Science, Literacy, and Engineering:  Preschool and Kindergarten Study of Wood

Preschool and Kindergarten Treehouse Sketches

The Singing Ringing Tree

The Singing Ringing Tree is a sculpture designed by Tonkin Lui Architects. It was designed and built a hill-top sound sculpture overlooking the town of Burnley, England. It was named after the Brothers Grimm folk story.


Here is a link where you can hear the sculpture singing and ringing!

Students built their own Singing Ringing Trees

“This looks like a real tree that I want to climb.”

Treehouses The Singing Ringing Tree 5
“I want to design a singing ringing tree but I would add bells and lights to it. It would be like a marble ramp and you can send big marble balls to hit the bells and make sounds. You could use LED lights at night to save energy.”

Treehouses The Singing Ringing Tree 1
“I want my singing ringing tree to be a treehouse. I want to sleep in it and have fun playing with my friends. I would put a pulley in it to bring up snacks for us to eat.”

Treehouses and Science Literacy Development

Kindergarten and School-Wide Treehouses


YSI Pre-K Treehouse blueprints and Treehouse building

Grade 1:  Squirrel Study

Grade 1 students have been studying Animals in science and in their classrooms.  This year featured a new FOSS Science Kit that connects to the learning in the classroom.  I shared that with you on previous posts.  The last two weeks of February focused on animal behavior in the winter.  In science we observed and studied squirrels

Squirrel Study- Flying Contraptions that inspired our grade 1 Engineers

Squirrel Study- Flying Contraptions that inspired our grade 1 Engineers


Squirrel Behavior in Winter and Safe Squirrel Trap Design


Squirrel Trap Designs and Fiction Literature

Grade 1 Squirrel Study and Engineering Designs


I decided to interview one student to talk about our learning journey.

Grade 1 Science Squirrel Study and Creativity Student Interview with Ms. Alicia

“We made Safe Science Traps to catch the squirrel running around in our school. Ms. Alicia told us that we had to design a safe trap to catch the squirrel and put him safely back into our playground area. She said someone left the door open to bring out balls and he got into the building. We talked about what kind of bait we needed to use. We said nuts like acorns, flowers, berries and seeds. We didn’t know that squirrels like to eat tree bark until we read a book about it. We started thinking of ideas on the type of traps we would build and where we would put them in the school. Most kids thought the cafeteria was the best place to put it because the squirrels don’t have as much food in the winter. After that we want to look at our sketches which is a kind of Blueprint to make it with recycled materials. That’s all I have to say.”    ~Grade 1 Student


We will end the unit with touching upon the plant lifecycle. Students will plant, grow, observe and record their wheat and grass plants.

International Girls and Women in Science Day

February 11, 2020 was International Girls and Women in Science Day.  Below are some featured photos of our Young Steam Inventor Girls on that day!

Onward into 2020!


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,



Outdoor Learning and STEAM: Global Connections

 “Nature Pedagogy is defined as the art of being with the natural world inside, outside and beyond.” 

Claire Warden, Founder of the International Association of Nature Pedagogy,  2018 

5-“The birds are blending into the leaves and we can’t see them. Predators will have a hard time trying to find and eat them.”

The Week of November 4th through 8th featured two back-to-back important global events:  International Outdoor Classroom Day on November 7, and National STEM / STEAM Day on November 8.  Our East Boston Young STEAM Inventors participated in both of these events and shared their learning with the global community.


International Outdoor Classroom Day

The Outdoor Classroom Day website explains that this is “a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play.”  In 2018 over 3.5 million children in over 100 countries participated.  This year, our Young STEAM Inventors were part of over 3 million children and more than 25,000 schools that were involved.  Check out the outdoor day classroom map here to see all of the countries that participated, and the global community that we are part of!  We are excited to participate in the next Outdoor Classroom Day on May 21, 2020.

Young STEAM Inventors spent their time learning outdoors and engaging in different STEM/STEAM learning activities.  Outdoor learning is a global movement. Educators, parents, homeschooler communities, and community educators from around the world used shared their best practices and student learning on these days to promote the importance of outdoor learning, and how it supports intellectual and social emotional health of the whole child.  We shared our learning in East Boston with educators worldwide.  Our Young STEAM Inventors are now part of a global community of STEM/STEAM learners.

Here are some photos from International Outdoor Classroom Day:

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National STEM/STEAM Day

On November 8, our Young STEAM Inventors participated in National STEM / STEAM Day.  The importance of the “A” in STEAM represents the inclusion and integration of Art with Science

Brenda Engel - Considering Children_s Art

learning.  Research tells us now that science and art is about teaching our young learners the importance of creativity and artistic expression.  Brenda Engel, a renowned educator, Professor Emeritus at Lesley University, artist, and a founder of the Mission Hill School in Roxbury in 1997, said “Without the arts we are all deprived.”  Brenda wrote a book on the importance of integrating art into children’s learning.

National STEM / STEAM Day is a National Holiday that has been set aside to encourage learners of all ages (students, parents, community members) to identify their passions and develop their creativity in the worlds of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.

To celebrate this day at the East Boston EEC, Young STEAM Inventors led their own inquiry, exploration, inventing, engineering and problem-solving.  This day was about kids having the opportunity to use a wide variety of materials to explore and express their own learning.

I began by asking them, “What would you like to explore today?”  This is a question that I ask them all the time, and very often the Young STEAM Inventors come to me first with their own ideas that they want to explore, ask to design and make something, or even bring back an activity that they’ve been thinking about.

For example, students recently asked me, “Miss Alicia, would you please bring the train tracks back, because we have an idea for building another kind of bridge for the trains to go over so they won’t fall off.”  I had thought they were finished thinking about trains, but clearly they were not.


29a The Bridge

Building a bridge

29b The Bridge

Building more bridges!

These Young STEAM Inventors are the next generation that will design the bridge infrastructure of our national transportation system!

For National STEM / STEAM Day, Young Steam Inventors had the opportunity, the space, and the time to ask their own questions and explore their own ideas.


26d A Stone Sat still

Some kids wanted to explore more ideas from the book “A Stone Sat Still.”

Above: “Our Nature maze that we started after reading One Stone Sat Still with the snail puppet with Ms. Alicia. The snail went on a journey and met different animals like some of the ones we are learning about like a slug, snail and worm.”

Some kids wanted to create their own facial expressions based on the book “The Invisible Scribble.”


Some kids created their own mazes. Some kids chose to explore yoga in the Yoga space. Some kids sat in the rocking chair and explored stories using puppets.

Below are some pictures of our Young Steam Inventors: exploring snails, building mazes, a moon rover, designing and building person ramp, and more. These student designers and creators are led by their own imaginations.  They are creative creators at work-play!

Slugs and Snails (Tap each image to enlarge)

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Exploring Ideas with Mazes

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Creative Creators at Work-Play

“Play is at the heart of creativity” ~ Lucas Learn

20 “I designed this tall birds nest with color and water blocks. I’m proud of this.”

“I designed this tall birds nest with color and water blocks. I’m proud of this.”

23 Creative Creators” at work play 2

8 “This is my person ramp. The marble drops from the persons head and travels down through the body while I run two marbles from both arms. One marbles touches the heart on its way down. All marbles roll down the leg into the foot Ms.Ali

“This is my person ramp. The marble drops from the persons head and travels down through the body while I run two marbles from both arms. One marbles touches the heart on its way down. All marbles roll down the leg into the foot Ms.Alicia.”

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Art and Expression


Architects at Work and Play

This is what should be going on all the time our classrooms.  In the Young Steam Inventors classroom everyday is National STEAM Day.  Our YSI classroom is where science, design, creativity and literacy come out to play!





The Forest Classroom with Our Young Naturalists

“Without continuous hands-on experience, it is impossible for children to acquire a deep intuitive understanding of the natural world that is the foundation of sustainable development…A critical aspect of the present-day crisis in education is that children are becoming separated from daily experience of the natural world, especially in larger cities.” 

~ Robin C. Moore and Herb H. Wong, Natural Learning, Creating Environments for Rediscovering Nature’s Way of Teaching

“Let Nature be your teacher.”

~William Wordsworth

“Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings.”

~John Muir


What is a forest-school-style learning environment?

Forest school is a teaching and learning approach that emphasizes outdoor learning, rather than a specific place. Forest schools in other countries have become more about how children use a unique space to develop social and personal skills, rather than a dedicated trip to a natural outdoor space. It is being held up as a valuable method of teaching, a place to continue learning and to imbed work that connects to the indoor classroom. 

My goal is to provide outdoor learning experiences for our Young Steam Inventors that support the whole child,  building self-esteem, confidence and independence. Children need space, and spaces that provide the freedom and opportunity for them to learn at their own pace:  exploring, collecting, discovering, asking questions, analyzing, and problem solving.

Teachers, education experts and child psychologists worldwide are alarmed that children are losing touch with the natural environment as they spend much more time indoors and playing with electronic devices. Current research is showing that children are increasingly addicted to electronics and screen time, and that this has led to an increase in isolation, aggressive behavior, and difficulty sleeping, among other things. 

Likewise, allowing children to be outdoors and connect with nature has many crucial positive health benefits, including an enhanced imagination, an increased attention span, better focus, and less aggressive behavior. Being outside helps children develop a love and respect for nature. (The Ten Benefits of playing in nature)

K0/K1/K2 Young Naturalists go Bird Watching

Last week we went bird watching in the back parking lot of the school. We started with a silent minute of standing and observing. Then we began our walk. We stopped every so often to listen and look.  The young naturalists made lots of observations, as well as gave answers to their classmates’ questions:

Here are some of the observations and questions our young naturalists came up with:

  • “How big is that bird? It looks like it weighs like 50 hamburgers!!!”
  • “What is that bird?” 
  • “It’s a seagull !” says another young naturalist.
  • “Is the bill really that small on the little bird? How can it hold a big worm?” 
  • “It’s because it has a strong beak.”
  • “How does a bird fly?”
  • “God made him do it.”
  • “We counted three birds. One brown bird. Ms. Alicia what is the name of that bird?”
  • “It’s a falcon” I say. 
  • “There are two seagulls flying way up high in the sky. I can see them with my binoculars!” 
  • “I noticed that they can make a lot of noise trying to talk to each other. When do they listen if they’re always chirping.”
  • “Some of the birds are making nests in the trees and in peoples houses.” 
  • “Remember we read that not all birds make nests in trees.”
  • “They’re smart because they don’t want to be cold.”
  • “I see a blue bird. “
  • “It’s a blue bird because my Mom told me that before.”
  • “Some of the birds are flying into the garbage to get food. That’s why we shouldn’t pick the berries. They need their food and not our food.”


Engineering Design Challenge

Our young STEAM inventors were challenged to design and build a bird nest from the natural materials they collected!

Check out this article about birdwatching by Jason Ward, an African American birder from the South Bronx.  He also has his own Youtube channel called Birds of North America, including a whole episode on teaching kids how to use binoculars.  Check out this Youtube episode about birdwatching in Central Park, NY

Grade 1 Young Steam Inventors: FOSS Unit on Air and Weather

Our grade 1 studies of “Air and Weather” continued this month, with explorations of flight and airplane design.  Young Steam Inventors had to step into the shoes of an engineer in order to put together their own airplane.  They had to look at a blueprint, read directions, look at a picture and follow all five construction steps just like engineers do.  They had to figure out how to detach and reattach two pieces of the airplane in order to put the propeller onto the front of the plane, and then test the propeller to see if it was going to move in a circular motion.  This was important to get right because otherwise the plane wouldn’t fly. This was a challenging activity, and all of the Young Steam Inventors worked hard and were resilient. They worked in pairs and in threes to help each other.   

Here is what our Grade 1 Young Steam Inventors want you to know about what they have been learning about flight and airplanes this past week:

  • “We designed airplanes and tested them outside and inside.”
  • “We had to figure out how to construct them and see if they would fly with or without the propeller.”
  • “It was fun flying airplanes in the school cafeteria! Some of the planes went into the kitchen and some got stuck on the lights.”
  • “We had to draw and write in our journals about what we noticed and observed, and what questions we had .”
  • “Ms. Alicia read the story about the Tuskegee Airman. They were Black men who flew airplanes during the war.”
  • “The Tuskegee Airmen were brave and not always treated fairly because of the color of their skin. They were great pilots.”
  • “We liked that story!”
  • “We are going to read about Bessie Coleman the first Black woman pilot and Amelia Earhart the first white woman pilot.”
  • “Just like the first woman pilots who walked in space last week or two weeks ago I think.”
  • “We talked about how the air can be different in different places in the P3 playground. We flew our planes to different places to test it out.”
  • “We flew our planes in different places in the cafeteria. We noticed the airplanes did more loops in the cafeteria. We think because the air was not as windy inside. But the planes flew higher because there was more wind blowing.”
  • “Next week we are going to start making weather calendars. That’s gonna be fun.”