June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
23.1226.1 - 23.1226.13
The PictureSTEM Project: A Curricular Approach Using Picture Books to Transform STEM Learning in Elementary Classrooms (Curriculum Exchange) IntroductionThere has been an increasing need for engineering education in elementary classrooms in orderto meet the complex and multidisciplinary problems that face our society. Additionally,integration has been suggested as a way to address the challenges of diminishing instructionaltime while providing students with the opportunity for engaging in realistic and multidisciplinarycontexts that reflect real world problems.The purpose of this study was to develop a unit which integrates STEM and literacy contentinstruction in meaningful and significant ways. The following questions guided the development: 1. In what ways does participation in the PictureSTEM curriculum affect learners’ content and process knowledge in literacy and STEM? 2. After participation in the PictureSTEM unit, in what ways do students engage in STEM habits of mind, and what is their disposition towards engaging in STEM-related learning and activities with others? 3. In what ways do teachers approach the implementation of the PictureSTEM curriculum unit?ParticipantsThis curricular unit was piloted in two urban districts in a large, Midwestern city with similarstudent demographics. Both school districts are partnered with a university through a university-industry partnership. It was implemented with 120 kindergarteners and 600 first graders in 10different elementary schools.Description of the UnitThis unit is geared towards the early elementary grades (K-2) and may be implemented in eitherfive or ten days. Animals and their homes are a high-interest topic for younger children and thisunit, Designing Animal Habitats, connects learning in the areas of life science, geometry, andengineering design through five pairs of literacy and STEM integration activities, each with theirown age- and activity-appropriate trade book. For example, the first paired lesson begins with awhole-class reading of a non-fiction text, which introduces students to the lives of wild hamstersand their habitats which builds background knowledge and creates context for the final designchallenge. It also creates a context for that day’s paired STEM integration activity, whichinvolves sorting and classifying animals.The remaining texts and activities build the skills necessary to complete the engineering designchallenge that asks students to build and test an exercise habitat for a hamster using geometricshapes. Students must demonstrate how their habitat meets the hamster’s basic needs and usetheir knowledge of shapes as well as the skill of counting to twenty to fulfill other criteria of thechallenge.ConclusionThrough implementation of this curriculum, we found that students were able to apply theirlearning in other contexts, such as caring for their goldfish. Teachers found that the picture booksprovided a realistic and engaging context in which to situate their students’ learning of theSTEM concepts. Additionally, students were able to recognize the importance of testing thematerials that they used in their engineering design challenge.The future directions for this curriculum project are to continue to study how teachers integrateengineering and STEM into their classrooms by examining how the integration of STEM andliteracy can be used as a model to enhance STEM learning.
Tank, K. M., & Moore, T. J., & Pettis, C. (2013, June), The PictureSTEM Project: A Curricular Approach Using Picture Books to Transform STEM Learning in Elementary Classrooms(Curriculum Exchange) Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/22611
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