Every year, the FMS Lower School embarks on an 8 week intensive learning journey in preparation for our annual STE(A)M fair. This journey encompasses so much, but at its core, this experience lays the foundation for life-long learners and information seekers; involvement in this process remains the most valuable lesson for our students in the LS.
STEM: OUR PROCESS:
Every year, the Fuchs Mizrachi Lower School embarks on an 8 week intensive learning journey in preparation for our annual STEM fair. The learning that transpires encompasses so much but at its core this experience lays the foundation for life-long learners and information seekers. While the topic changes from year to year what remains the same is the process!
Part 1: Accessing Prior Knowledge:
We reviewed past STEM fair topics: Simple Machines and Energy (see pages 1-6 of Lab Manual) (see attached PDF)
Part 2: Knowledge Based Learning and Scientific Inquiry:
3 specific biological systems –
Central Nervous System: Students in First – Fifth grade utilized a number of modalities in order to discover different parts of the brain and how the brain works, how our eyes work – the difference between Voluntary and Involuntary movements, crossing our midlines and the role of nerves. Below are photographs from the IN CLASS experiments where students utilized materials to generate their own learning trajectories. In the attached Lab Manual pages 6-23 reflect this system and pages 20-23 are the built in student checks for understanding. In each Lower School classroom you will notice that the fifth graders took on the leadership roles of experiment facilitators. Fifth graders had one week to learn the material and try the experiments in order to enter the younger grades and facilitate effectively – this was done for each experiment over the eight week period.
Students learned all about the heart – and the brain/heart connection – Students learned about what blood is, why it travels through our bodies and the importance of being heart healthy, students even had the opportunity to scoop and study real bone marrow from animal bones! Pages: 24-34 in the lab manual represent this section – please note the areas for making hypotheses based on information gathered prior and the self-check-fill ins to help all students monitor their own learning:
Below are photographs from the IN CLASS experiments:
Students connect what they’ve already learned about pulleys, the brain and the body to learn how muscle, bones, tendons and ligaments work in tandem with one another. Students met a double amputee and learned how he trained his brain to learn how to walk again with his “robotic” legs – please see pictures from the IN CLASS experiments and pages: 35-43 represent this section in the lab manual.
- Meaningful Co-curricular Integration
To further deepen our learning and understanding we integrate these learning objectives across our curriculum in meaningful ways. For example in our Judaics classes we connect our STEM learning to our Hebrew vocabulary acquisition. Attached is an example of how the STEM vocabulary is introduced to the students in another way – as Hebrew Idioms: see attached PDF
Then we further connect these ideas in our Judaics learning by aligning the above nuanced Hebrew vocabulary to scientific knowledge with halacha or Jewish Law – students locate STEM vocabulary in Tefila and then begin to learn the Halachot surrounding the science – see the attached Choveret that was used in supplement to the student lab manual.
Judaics and Jewish Law
Lastly, and most importantly we align our knowledge based inquiry with our Zionist mission by introducing our students to Israeli medical and scientific pioneers. This was a role the fifth graders took upon themselves to research. The fifth graders then offered instructional videos in both Hebrew and English to expand the Lower School’s knowledge in this area – watch below:
But integration doesn’t stop there! This year, we added another layer to our STEM process; each grade utilized their art period to represent one biological system in creative form. First and Second grade made string art to represent the circulatory system: stringart third grade utilized recycled materials to recreate the heart as a pump and the fourth and fifth graders made Marionettes to replicate the Skeletal-Muscle system: fourthgrademarionettes.
Concurrent with meaningful learning opportunities our STEM process also provides our fifth graders, the oldest class in our Lower School, with the chance of applying the leadership skills they have been honing throughout their time in the Lower School. The fifth graders are tasked with teaching, modeling and inspiring the younger grades throughout the STEM process.
Our greatest source of pride is the community involvement our STEM fair inspires in our parent body. Every year parents are invited to come in as ‘mystery guests’ – parents join their child’s class and share with them how their profession and or training relates to our STEM learning – providing us real world application of the very important things we are learning. This year concurrent with our classroom “mystery guests” the whole lower school was invited to participate in a medical panel made up of nine lower school parents, the panel represented the following fields: cardiologist, PICU nurse, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Personal Trainer, Chiropractor, Pediatrician, Oncologist and a Neurologist. Each class generated three questions for the panel – the discussion lasted forty-five minutes: enjoy the video here: Fuchs Mizrachi School Stem Fair Medical Panel 2.21.17
This year our STEM fair was also sponsored by Akron Children’s Hospital – a relationship made from a parent, Dr. Ira Taub, the Pediatric Cardiologist in Akron Children’s Hospital along with funding the fair Akron Children’s also provided a heart healthy booth at the actual STEM Fair!
- Mystery Guest and Panel Photos: – Physical Therapist, Dr.CarlyWilber, Dr. Anna Serels, Barbie Taub OT, Dr. Sam Ruskin, Dr. Avi Jacobs, Dr. Dahan, Yael Cik Speech Therapist, Tehila Bennett NICU Nurse, Dr. Devra Becker, Panel Photo
Culminating Stem Fair:
The STEM fair is run akin to a children’s museum, with lower school students of all ages acting as facilitators – please see the attached PDFs for the Save the Date! and brochure. Below are pictures from the actual fair – there is also a video of the experience as a whole (that is not finished being edited):
Save the Date!
Sima Maryless is the first and second grade secular studies teacher in the Fuchs Mizrachi School. Jessica Segen is the fifth grade teacher in the Fuchs Mizrachi School. Jessica and I facilitate the Language Arts, Math and STEAM professional learning cohorts. We have created an annual STE(A)M fair for grades 1-5 - and eight week, dynamic learning experience that encompasses all curriculum areas in the Lower School.