Friday, December 11, 2015

Matthew Turner students learn creative, technical skills

(Originally published in the 12/11/15 edition)

   All this week, students at Matthew Turner Elementary have been learning important skills in areas like math, science and engineering by having fun.
   Dec. 7 to 11 was the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) Week where students of all grades participated in a variety of activities that taught them about these areas. The week was funded by Parent Teacher Association, and various parents and community organizations volunteered to assist.
   Although this is the first year the school has done a STEAM Week, the school had done a STEM program for third through fifth graders in past years, Matthew Turner Principal Leslie Beatson said.
   “We had a separate art day, and this year we brought it all together, made it STEAM and did it for a whole week,” she said. 
   Every day of the week has different activities. On Monday, the students had an assembly in the Multi-Purpose Room called Kid Science Safari, which provided them with a number of experiments and hands-on activities.
   “It was sort of like the Exploratorium in mini on wheels,” Beatson said.
   Tuesday was an in-school STEAM Day, where every class had six 30-minute workshops in the areas of STEAM. Throughout the day, third graders attempted to build towers out of straws, second graders designed tinfoil boats to see how many pennies they could hold before sinking and kindergarteners learned about the science of bubbles by determining which instruments would create the biggest bubbles.
   Students also made use of technology. Third graders shot short movies on iPads and learned coding lessons in the library, and second graders got to see Lego robotics in action. 
   On Wednesday, classes did buddy projects related to STEAM, and Benicia Middle School’s jazz band and drama club came by to perform. On Thursday, guest readers read STEAM-related books, and today, third through fifth graders will be doing hands-on activities by community partners. 
   Beatson believes students will learn important lessons through the week’s activities.
   “They’re going to learn skills outside of STEAM like collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking,” she said. “They’re very short sessions, so they’re a jumping point for more in-depth work that can happen in the classroom.” 
   Beatson noted the week, particularly Tuesday’s STEAM Day, was a collaborative effort among techers, parents and community members, who donated items and helped with instruction. 

“I think I have about 30 parent volunteers and community members coming in to help,” she said. “Without them, this day would not be possible.” 

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