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A is for Apple, B is for Ball, C is for… Coding?

A is for Apple, B is for Ball, C is for… Coding?
CLK Elementary STEAM program brings advanced learning to students earlier than ever before, combining technology with art for students starting in kindergarten

CLK Elementary students are motivated to reach for more. In fact, they’re learning skills usually not introduced until middle or high school. Along with reading, writing and math, elementary students at CLK Elementary are adding technology to their skillset… learning concepts like programming and coding.

In CLK’s new STEAM class-science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics-taught by Amy Burmeister, projects vary based on age and capabilities. Fifth graders paint a robot, then create a circuit for the back that will light it up. Fourth graders produce self-portraits using Photoshop. Third graders make an “art bot” that includes a circuit with a motor and propeller. And in kindergarten, first, and second grade, students use different STEAM variables to build a house.

For the house project, kindergarten students work together to devise a structure using index cards, learning the basics of engineering, architecture, and balance. Next, students use basic shapes to build a house out of paper, cutting the paper into basic shapes and putting them together, making composite shapes. After the paper model, students move to the STEAM lab, where they draw their house digitally on iPads. Next, students build their houses out of clay, incorporating art and science concepts.

Each STEAM project takes a ‘building blocks’ approach, with each step more complex than the one before. Students are inspired to explore and learn new things with support and guidance from the teacher. “When the students make those connections between the different subject matters, you can see their excitement,” says STEAM teacher Amy Burmeister. “They’re motivated to continue on the path of learning, figure out the next step, and get to their final result.”

Inspiring creativity, increased peer interaction, and developing critical thinking skills are only a few of the benefits that come from teaching STEAM to elementary schoolers. Instead of taking a traditional approach of separating art and STEM, CLK administration implemented STEAM to provide students an opportunity to express themselves through art.

“At the elementary level, we’re laying the foundation of a child’s education,” says CLK Elementary School principal Matt Hampton. “The tools that students learn in STEAM like critical thinking and collaboration will allow them to continue learning and adapt to new technologies throughout their student years, and even beyond that.” Julie Giachino, assistant principal, adds, “The whole educational discipline of STEAM sparks students’ interest to become lifelong learners.”

As the educational landscape continues to change and evolve, students from CLK’s STEAM classes will be able to implement the skills they are learning to embrace change, take on challenges, and be forever inspired to explore and learn new things.

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