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Pleasant Elementary prepares to launch STEM lab

By Janice Smith • May 4, 2018 at 9:00 AM

This fall, Pleasant Elementary will be launching our very own STEM lab.

Our STEM lessons will incorporate integrated mathematics, sciences, engineering and technology; while introducing our students to schools of scientific linear thinking, creative problem solving, inventiveness, and instilling the importance of collaboration and teamwork.

STEM activities are motivating, engaging and real-world inspired. Knowledge is taught the way it is used in the real world, with concepts and subjects intertwined. STEM teaches children to be forward-thinking about technology, as well as help ignite their problem-solving skills. Students will integrate and apply meaningful important content. Engaging students will help apply new concepts in a deeper more thorough way, which leads to a greater understanding of these concepts. Teamwork, collaboration and communication is our major focus.

Pleasant Elementary kicked off our STEM journey last month. Pleasant students along with their families set sail on the Pleasant Seas for a pirate-themed STEM Night organized by Mrs. T. Heyman.

More than 400 attendees followed a pirate treasure map full of activities around Pleasant Elementary. These activities included experiments, inventions, creativity, and explorations. Families worked together to build a working catapult, made sharks float using, saved a gummy worm from drowning and constructed an aluminum foil boat that wouldn’t sink.

Among the favorite activities were face painting and a tattoo parlor, where the Norwalk High School Art Club “Pirates” shared their talents. Our surprise guest for the photo booth was a “real pirate” (Mr. Heyman, Mrs. T. Heyman’s husband) who took pictures with students and sometimes their whole family.

Of course, the messiest and most popular activity was ocean slime. Fish and chips (Goldfish and Chips Ahoy cookies) were available at the snack station, along with ocean water bottles. All had a blast.

Here are some at home, simple tips for you to prepare your child for the STEM experience:

Curiosity: Inspire a sense of wonder and awe for your child by continually introducing new things and taking the opportunity to teach a lesson. For example, take your child on a walk and identify plants, show them how to use technology, etc.

Use your environment: You already have all the tools you need to begin your child’s instruction. Lessons are limited to the imagination, use coins, beans, passing cars, trees. Don’t forget to improvise.

Encourage questions: One of the fundamental tenants of math and science is to question everything. Asking questions introduces critical, processed thinking. When your child asks a question, ask some follow up questions in return to make more sense of the problem.

Make learning a daily activity: Make learning a daily activity, incorporating math and science into everyday life. Play games like “You ate half your snack. how much do you have left?” or “How many maple trees are at the park?” Small games like this will make learning habitual and fun.

There are many STEM activities for children you can find by Googling: STEM activities; STEM for kids; summer STEM activities on Pinterest; and YouTube STEM activities.

Happy STEMing to you and yours.

Local columnist Janice Smith is the Pleasant Elementary principal.

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