In response to research by the National Science Foundation and governmental studies showing the increased job growth and innovation in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), many schools across our national have chosen to use STEM curriculum guidelines to help their students become critical thinkers, understand science literacy, and keep up with the global growth and innovation in these four critical areas. North Shore Christian School has chosen the KnowAtom Program as our STEM curriculum for grades K through 8.
The KnowAtom curriculum is a yearlong, hands-on discovery of science, engineering, technology, and math, all with real-life scenarios and storylines students naturally connect with. Each experiment allows them to investigate and eventually design their own solutions to each problem/issue based upon their research and experimentation. The curriculum is based upon research and recommendations of the National Research Council, and is designed to inspire the creativity and scientific skills of each student. Students love that they are tasked with solving problems such as finding out how a space satellite can survive the temperature changes in outer space, or how meteorologists can predict weather phenomena specific to our region.
Our teachers love that the curriculum comes with online and in-person support, training, and coaching so they can get the most out of every unit. In each KnowAtom kit come the tools, materials, and consumables that correspond with each unit. The hands-on lessons are grade-specific and include: formative and summative assessments, digital resources, grade-specific readings, and are specific to our state requirements. Nothing is better for teachers than having the tools they need to inspire our students to learn more about the world around them.
Here are just a few of the ways that STEM is being used in our classrooms. Ask your children about their latest experiments and how they solved the problem discussed.
- Our first grade recently dissected owl pellets to find out what their habitat provides for them. The experiments showed even the youngest learners how habitats provide everything needed and how scientists can discover this from examining the pellets.
- In second grade the students explored and studied landforms. They asked the question, how are rivers and streams formed? To answer this they constructed a hill and put frozen ice dyed with blue food coloring to observe how water moves downhill and then collects to form rivers and streams. They also made bouncy balls while investigating properties of matter when they explored solids and liquids.
- Third grade students explored and researched structures. As one of their activities they designed and constructed their own traditional Native American longhouse.
- Our fourth grade students also explored structures. They created structures using toothpicks and analyzed the load each structure was able to carry. Additionally, the students needed to decide if structures should be certain heights or widths to carry various weight loads.
- The fifth grade tracked earthquakes and volcanoes, then analyzed how those earthquakes and volcanic episodes relate to the placement of the tectonic plates.
- Our middle school students researched weather data for a certain city and created a forecast based upon their findings including: temperature, barometric pressure, potential precipitation, and extreme weather phenomena specific to the area they chose.
- Our middle school students also examined space satellites and how they handle the extreme changes in temperature.
- During our STEM Saturday (Grades 2-8), students explored sound waves. For instance, what is the length of the fishing line produces a high/low sound or louder/softer sound? The students also made their own speakers out of recycled materials, connecting the speakers to an iPhone as they listened to music.