At Infinite Energy, we take the subject of childhood education to heart. And so we’ve made funding and participating in different educational projects the focus of our corporate citizenship efforts. We especially like projects that support science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics—STEAM.
Last year, we gave 11 Georgia schools in Gwinnett County about $50,000 in grants for STEAM projects. Chattahoochee Elementary—with several smaller projects aimed at teaching kids about ecology—was one of those schools. This week, we caught up with Chattahoochee kindergarten teacher Shewanne L., and she shared a little about one of those projects.
So, the kids are building terrariums. Are these small projects?
They can be of various sizes, depending on the size containers that were donated by the families in the classroom. Some can be as large as a family sized pretzel container or as small as a 2-liter bottle.
What are you and your students putting in these tiny ecosystems?
Soil, rocks, moss, various plant seeds, worms and roly poly bugs.
Sounds fun. What are you hoping they’ll learn?
With these little self-sustaining greenhouses, we want to provide kindergarten students—about 225 of them this year—with an opportunity to design and create. They’re getting to explore materials of the Earth. They’re learning about the water cycle, and they’re learning how life grows and works in natural systems. We want them to determine how the selection of materials affects the growth of plants and animals inside the environment. And we want them to understand how important water is to life on Earth.
Students also learn how to collaborate with each other as they focus on problem-based learning tasks. They have to evaluate and communicate their findings, including developing a model that represents how a set of organisms and nonliving objects are sorted into groups based on their attributes.
Are the kids excited about this?
The students are so excited to begin the project. They love asking questions and using tools and materials to create. They enjoy sharing information and research with each other, and they’ve enjoyed touching and exploring the worms and roly polys and determining if they are living or nonliving. And they love watching the growth of the plants, grass and animals within the terrariums.
Why is STEAM-based learning important?
A lot of the problem-based learning projects end up covering multiple subjects. In today’s world, setting students up for future success means exposing them to these disciplines holistically in order to develop their critical thinking skills. And the earlier students are exposed to STEAM disciplines, the better.
Stay tuned in the weeks and months ahead as we cover a whole new round of STEAM grant recipients for 2019.