STEAM in Ms. Palmeri's Room 1st Grade- Deep Wood Elementary

This is only year two for me teaching... I honestly had no idea of what I was getting myself into when I asked to be a part of this Cohort.

Little did I know how much I would learn and grow...

Before this cohort...

I felt STEM had to be this overwhelming, trans-disciplinary, month long unit with a million dollars worth of supplies to be successful. It was that word that made my first year teacher brain terrified.

I followed my team's practice of planning "departmentally" and I planned Science and Social Studies.

My room followed the ARRC, used quite a bit of plans from STEMscopes, and was hands on when I could make it work.

But after a year, I felt empowered and ready to discover just exactly how to use STEAM in my room in a meaningful and purposeful way for my students to learn.

And in my time within this Cohort... I have learned so much!

  • STEAM can simply be 1 or 2 disciplines (I don't have to be trans-disciplinary just yet)
  • Design challenges can be quick and purposeful at the same time (brown bag and Dollar Tree is my new best friend)
  • How to plan these real-world applicable lessons
  • Our district has SO many resources for us teachers (technology, MakerSpace, little bits, Speedometry Kits, 3D Printers,Community Partnerships etc)
  • STEAM is a delivery method (no secret formula, no new ingredient, but a way to organize to help prepare our students)
  • The importance of Twitter (committed to having 1 all year next year)
  • The power of collaboration (my peers and my students)
  • Guiding your own story (through data)

So I went back into my room with new ideas and energy to be a STEAM teacher!

Unit 5- Patterns of Movement

My students started in groups and worked together to investigate how different objects moved- round and round, zig-zag, back and forth, etc. Next we came together as a group and shared out the different noticings from each group, and students learned how a particular object could actually move in a variety of ways.

Then we created a class obstacle course to attempt to fit all the different motions (science) into one activity with our bodies. They recorded a diagram in their journals with procedural text (language arts) on how to complete their course. They enjoyed designing it and talking through different ideas of how to make your body go "back and forth" and "up and down" (art).

The kids really loved getting to MOVE and LEARN!

After seeing the Ozobots demonstrated in our cohort, I knew I had to take a risk and bring them into my room. At first we simply drew routes to make them move in the motions we had been studying. Here is "round and round".

Students learned about coding and how you are the brain behind making robots move. If your route is not clear, then the robots won't be able to follow your plan properly.

The kids were eager to share out with one another ways to solve those tricky problems that would arise. I saw collaboration on a level that felt authentic and real for them.

Students were completely engaged and problem solving effectively to make their robot move the way they wanted it to.

I was amazed at the rigor my students had to make the Ozobots work even when it sometimes felt frustrating for them when it couldn't follow their course.

And some friends just simply drew squiggles to see what would happen.

We finished this unit with experimenting with cars on the Speedometry kits. This was a day full of collaboration and engineering the perfect tracks to show a variety of movements.

Unit 3 and 4- Heat Energy

We used what were learning about adding and removing heat to make popsicles on a warm day. Students enjoyed getting to see the actual effects of both the freezer removing heat and the sun bringing heat to melt them. We mixed them in the science lab and used our math concepts of part, part whole to create the perfect mixture.

Unit 6- Soil, Water and Rocks

We began this unit by making observations about different types of soil. We looked at color, texture, and particle size.

Next students worked with partners to use droplers to add water to create mud smudges. They recorded their observations in their journals of what happened to the soils when they became mud.

We then discussed our findings and noticed how some of our original hypothesis were incorrect.

They really learned to closely observe which properties effected the sample the most when they were trying to make the best mud texture.

These observations are what would help them in the next part of this unit. PLUS: When science gets messy- It's the best!

We took what we learned about soil, mud and water's properties and we began the discuss useful products. What do we use these for in our real world? We brought in Language Arts by reading The True Story of The Three Little Pigs, and talked about why the brick house was the most successful. Students were then challenged to design a brick recipe using the soils we investigated previously that could withstand a "huff and a puff" from the wolf (aka Paper Fan).
Students created individual recipes.

I brought in the more math than I have attempted all year. I pre-taught adding halves to whole numbers. (I knew any more than half a cup of water would make the mixtures too wet.) We worked on cutting shapes into equal parts and writing number sentences to make them equal the whole again.

After students came up with their own individual recipe, I grouped them based on similar ideas for brick mixtures and let them start their 1st trial. The language I heard while monitoring groups was outstanding. They were making wanderings, they were learning to defend their own ideas and back up their opinions, they were compromising. It was great!

Trial 1 for every group was basically sopping wet.

We came back and discussed our findings, and tried again. The students were critical thinkers on how to make their mixtures better.

Each group did even better the second time around. I was proud of the way they stayed engaged and determined to figure the challenge out.

Students loved working towards a solution to keep the pigs "safe", and I loved the collaboration and teamwork I saw shine through during this unit.

Unit 7- Weather

Last year my students created wind socks, and they enjoyed it but it was directly led. "Everyone fold your paper like this, use 3 streamers..." Through this cohort I learned to empower my students and let them create.

After using our shadows to learn about the suns movements, and creating clouds in jars, it was time to discover the wind. We read The Wind Blew, and looked online at real wind socks and turbines. We posed the question, "What can we create to measure the wind?"

I laid out supplies donated by families and we discussed the properties of each item. Students wrote in their journal their design plan for their personal windsock.

We came together to share out our plans, and students got peer feedback on ideas to try, and compliments.

Students were able to tweak their plan if they chose to. Then they were ready to design!

The kids got creative with designs and could not wait to test them!

It was interesting to see the different varieties in each student's design.

I could see their creative minds spinning, and saw how they would problem solve making it all come together.

We tested them for 4 days and each time would return to record them in our journals using tally marks to show if they worked, and which way they blew.

I may not have figured out how to incorporate STEAM into every unit, but I saw the benefit of teaching this way each time I tried something new in my room. When I could not purposefully use STEAM in a unit, we could always find time in the week to have STEAM and MakerSpace free choice. Students love simply getting to create.


Being a part of this cohort really opened my eyes to the power of crossing disciplines and teaching in a more authentic way, so that students can clearly see the connection to the real world. I learned to empower my students, and not always lay out specific guidelines for them to follow. I feel empowered myself to keep learning new techniques and creative ways to bring more STEAM opportunities to them.

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