From the library to the classroom, Arrowwood Elementary is a FABschool. Earlier this year the neighborhood school in Douglas County, CO added Fab@School Maker Studio, a digital design and fabrication program, to its STEAM curriculum. Recently, Dana Palmer shared a bit about how students are using the tool and the plans for the future.
As a STEM/STEAM teacher can you share a bit about the importance of introducing STEAM concepts in elementary school?
I was the "tech lab teacher" for the first 8 years of my career - straight tech lab activities devoid of creativity did not help students develop a deeper understanding of concepts. I found students cutting and pasting information from the internet directly into PowerPoint and calling it "technology integration.” They were unable to explain concepts in their own words; they were unable to relate concepts to their lives or other applications. With the hands-on creative approach of STEAM that I use, students are highly engaged and have a much deeper understanding of concepts.
How are the students at Arrowwood Elementary School using Fab@School Maker Studio?
We are at the starting stages - our older students are creating manipulatives for younger students. We reworked an old lesson that used straws and pipe cleaners to make 3D prisms with Fab@School Maker Studio prisms created by students.
For our older students, they are learning to be creative and do for others-creating something another student will use to learn has been really exciting for them, and the younger students are receiving top quality manipulatives made by school mates.
What has been the “aha” moment?
When I looked at last year’s "prisms" compared to this year’s it is evident that they are accurate- having accurate prisms allowed students to better understand planes, vertices, etc...
They got the "correct" answer quicker and were able to understand the correlation between sides, vertices, etc..
What is next?
Looking to create a fabrication center in our library - great software - easy to get started with and reasonable equipment prices will make this a reality much quicker than I thought possible.