OLDTOWN — Even animals made of clay need a home.
As part of Idaho Hill Elementary’s STEAM certification aspirations, first- and second-graders were building those homes for their clay creatures recently, using boxes, colorful paper and other items, as well as a whole lot of imagination.
“We are in the beginning stages of the STEAM program,” said Idaho Hill librarian Launa Lewis.
Idaho Hill has been moving toward STEAM certification for the past two years. The school was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Community Assistance League last spring, and the library has been transformed into a makerspace to support STEAM efforts.
Idaho Hill Principal Susie Luckey said this year they have committed to a STEAM session every Wednesday morning, in addition to a weekly team-teaching session by a technology paraprofessional and the classroom teacher. All of the teachers are integrating science into the classrooms as well, Luckey said, with the new science standards that came out this year.
The schedule has been adjusted as well to give the teachers and paraprofessionals time to plan the STEAM integration.
“It takes a lot of work to even go through those standards,” Luckey said.
The second-graders started out this year by finding a book on an animal of their choosing, then they did a report on the habitat for that animal before making their clay models and habitats. Upon completion of their dioramas, they will use their clay animals, habitats and reports to make videos of their projects.
“A lot of it is about teamwork, overall, through the school — learning how to work as a team, following directions and solving real-world problems,” she said.
The fifth- and sixth-graders have also been working on STEAM projects, and recently visited Rocky Mountain Construction, a company in Hayden that builds roller coasters. They also visited the North Idaho College Parker Technical Education Center. For their STEAM projects, the sixth-grade is building amusement parks using K’Nex, Lewis said.
“One of our goals as we move toward becoming a STEAM school is to expose the kids to colleges and programs where they can make a connection,” Luckey said.
Last year for Halloween, she said, she wore a graduation cap and gown, and several students didn’t know what her costume was. Also, when the third- and fourth-graders took a field trip to Spokane Falls Community College last spring to visit the planetarium, and when they got off the bus, one of the youngsters was amazed that colleges actually exist outside of television, Luckey said.
It is important for students to make those connections, Luckey said, and to visualize careers they might be interested in. Idaho Hill secretary, Dona Storro, has contacted colleges across the region and after sharing the school’s goals with them, has collected pendants from several of the colleges. Luckey said they want to put the pendants up all around the building to encourage the youngsters.
Lewis said STEAM is also important for the kids to learn how to do hands-on projects at a young age.
“Just learning how to integrate all of the STEAM components — science, technology, engineering, art and math — we are putting it all together, preparing them for the future,” Lewis said.
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