Connecting Current Events with STEAM/STEM Learning

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My hometown made the national news two weeks ago following a disaster on one of our major interstates.  A bridge in the middle of the city collapsed as a result of a fire that was intentionally set underneath.  It is amazing how much a city's infrastructure impacts the lives those working in the city.  Bridges are truly a lifeline, and this event has impacted a majority of the four million in the metro area.

Connecting to current events to our lessons creates authentic learning experiences.  I find embedding content within STEAM/STEM lessons inspires students to think more critically.  1st Grade has been studying solid figures, so I took the opportunity to connect learning about the strength of solid figures with bridge support.  The kids were STOKED!   

When creating projects for my STEAM/STEM lesson, I tend to start with my standards, then research applications.  Usually there will be something current that comes up in my search!  (This time, the application was **almost** in my backyard!)  Integrating arts and language arts concepts typically go hand-in-hand with our projects.  

After discussing the requirements for the columns, students got to work creating models out of different color sheets of paper. 


Students then tested how much weight their columns would hold using books from their book boxes. 

In this STEAM project, students put on their architect hats and pretended to draw the plans for the new bridge, using the data they'd collected regarding the best type of columns.    



After their plans were drawn, students wrote to our state governor explaining their findings and making suggestions.  


I have seen stronger student engagement when I incorporate hands on learning with students!  





Here's a link to the resources I created for this activity, if you'd like to see more. 




How do you come up with STEAM/STEM lessons or integrate hands on learning with your students?

Happy Engineering!  

Stephanie 

by Spivey Sparks

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