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K-2 | Science & Tech | Engineering
Station WQPT in Illinois
My Classroom Innovation
My innovation revolves around a desire to get the 1st and 2nd grade students in my school interested in Science Technology, Engineering, and Math careers. To make this happen, I teamed up with my local PBS station (which is WQPT-Quad Cities PBS) and together with them got a substantial grant from the Alcoa Foundation that we titled “Engineering Tomorrow’s Workforce.” We used the money from this grant in many different ways, but the one I felt was most innovative was what we called, “Saturday Science.” These were classes held on Saturday afternoons that offered students in 1st and 2nd grade the opportunity to come in with their parents and explore many areas of science through engaging hands-on activities that went beyond the regular curriculum. Many of the activities and lessons came from the PBS Teachers website, and video clips from shows like Nova, Nova Science Now, and Nature were also used to supplement the activities. Each month, we chose a different theme for Saturday Science - which included engineering, kitchen chemistry, the science of magic, robotics, dry ice science, rockets, and flight. While we originally intended it to be just for the students and their parents, there was such great interest and curiosity that siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even neighbors started showing up with our 1st and 2nd grade students and their parents! With “Saturday Science,” we’ve found a way to engage students and their families in STEM subjects, and encourage them to consider pursuing a career in one of those areas. Without the partnership with and resources from WQPT and the PBS Teachers website, none of this would have been possible.
How Students were Engaged
This project not only engaged students, but their family members as well! The students were taught basic scientific concepts in a wide variety of areas through simple hands on demonstrations, and then were encouraged to improve on those simple designs. For example, a basic design for an air powered rocket was shown, and students were allowed to "take chances, make mistakes," and create an improved design through the use of the scientific method. Every student (and their family members) walked away from each Saturday Science with increased knowledge in that month's subject area. Not only have I seen students transferring this knowledge to new concepts and situations, they are showing an eagerness to come back and learn more about different subject areas - which will hopefully lead to a career in a STEM related field.
PBS Program/Content Used
Grant money through WQPT, PBS Teachers website, Nova, Nova Science Now, Nature