Section 1: STEM Learners
The STEM school/program supports non-traditional student participation through outreach to groups often underrepresented in STEM program areas.
All Oak Grove students participate in our STEM program. Teachers met as teams to develop integrated problem-based learning units to engage students in long-term, collaborative study. For example, in the wake of recent hurricanes, fourth grade recently began a unit constructed around human responses to disasters. Students began building houses-of-cards, only to find themselves in the path of a hurricane. (In this case, a leaf blower.)
This engaging activity has led to multi-week study of disasters and human responses to them
Additionally, we have identified two groups as underrepresented in STEM learning: our Moderate Intellectual Disability (MID) population, and what we call our "Bubble Kids."
Our MID population, while integrated socially with the rest of the student body, has historically remained academically separate. We see STEM as an opportunity to both further the academic success of these learners, and to include them fully in ourSTEM visiont. Currently we have two MID classes (grades 1-3 and grades 3-5), totaling 23 children. All students have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Of those, 13 children "push out" into regular education classes for part of the day. To date the 3-5 children are keeping a running record of hummingbird sightings, since the class overlooks the hummingbird area in our STEM garden. In March, they will participate in Hummingbirds at Home, a citizen science program created by the Audubon Society to document the migration patterns of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Mainstreamed MID students joined regular ed classes and visited the Georgia Traveling Map which was temporatily installed in the Oak Grove library. Students used tablets and QR codes to access 360 degree "street view" images of important landmarks and notable geographic sites in Georgia.
On 10-10 Day, MID students, with our Art Department, scaled (x10) our school logo to created a stencil for the Oak Grove parking lot. They then stenciled the logo in each parking space.
This fall, MID classes are making artisanal scarves to raise money for the Special Olympics. They will take on all aspects of the project: from manufacturing to marketing and selling.
Our "bubble kids" are those students whose scores fall 5 points above or below the 40th percentile on the Measures of Academic Progress or MAP test. Data show that these students can easily move in either direction, and within our STEM program, we believe that we can increase our student percentages. In addition to the school STEM curriculum, this group of kids is being assigned to those ongoing duties that need to be done by small groups: Meteorologists (Weather data collection), Data Squad (helping MID classes with data reporting, such as Hummingbirds at Home), Aquarium Rescue Unit (maintaining aquaponics/aquariums), Green Thumbs (assisting in the garden), Green Screen Crew, Techsperts, OGE Live Morning Show Crew, Paparazzi (photographers of school events, Video Paparazzi, Backstage Sound etc.
Students work independently and collaboratively in an inquiry-based learning environment that encourages finding creative solutions to authentic and complex problems.
Our teachers meet regularly to plan interdisciplinary units built around real-world problems and questions. We encourage our students to think independently, and to work collaboratively to come up with solutions to these problems. Within this context our teachers ensure that state standards are met while we foster problem solving and critical thinking. We encourage students (as well as teachers) to use the language of the the 4 Cs - Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Cooperation – and we provide our students ample time to self-reflect in these areas.
Teachers collaboratively develop unit plans ranging typically from 6 to 12 weeks. All subjects are integrated.
First Lego League
One of our programs that encourages our students to engage with authentic problems is our 3rd grade FLL (First Lego League). Students regularly use FLL kits to respond to a variety of challenges and problems. Below, students were challenged to design a habitat to help combat dwindling endangered species populations.
Third grade studies pollution (including oil spills) and students devise system to clean up after spills.
Health vs. Hunger
Our health teacher is working with all grade levels to design vertical gardening systems in an attempt to combat overcrowding and inadequate food supply across the world. Students design container systems and work out how to provide water for the plants.
Recently our Pre-K and kindergarten students embarked on a four week unit using Fairy Tales Educational Duplo to address problems with construction and earthquakes.
Topics included Toppling Towers, Wobbling Walls, and Giants - building skyscrapers using EDP.
3rd Grade Students study weather related hazards to crops, then design a system that protects fruit trees from animals, but also allows water to pass through, but also prevents damage from weather like hail.
Solving the parking problem at OGE with the help of a CDC cartographer.
Students are empowered to personalize and self-direct their STEM learning experiences supported by STEM educators who facilitate their learning.
At Oak Grove we have been honing our STEM skillset for the past four years. We started with science nights which became STEM nights. We added quarterly STEM days, robotics and coding. At this point we are perfecting a fully integrated and collaborative, STEM-rich program. We attempt to bring in traveling programs, guest speakers, and citizen science whenever possible.
With the help of a local graphic designer, we developed a poster for each classroom depicting the Engineering Design Process. Our goal was to standardize STEM language and thinking so that kids move from grade to grade within the same STEM framework.
In a treasured seasonal activity, first graders use the EDP to design houses that can stand and withstand weight challenges.
During the Big Canyon Balloon visit, students debate fast versus slow changes to the earth while they experience weathering, erosion and deposition. They participate to create landforms including a barrier island, a sand dune, and a delta.
Orbit Earth sends students on a journey into space to create and experience the cycles, systems and relationships between the earth, moon and sun using huge, inflatable Earth model and a scale-sized moon. They also learn why the sun can’t be to scale!
Tulip Test Garden
Students use technology resources to conduct research, demonstrate creative and critical thinking, and communicate and work collaboratively.
LEGO WeDo, EIE kits. Oak Grove has long made use of various technologies to further our academic goals. In addition to computers, iPads and Chromebooks, our technology includes a fully functioning TV studio and video editing space, usb microscopes, binoculars, compasses, STEM garden tools, GPS devices, balloon mapping kits, spheros, 3d printing space, Lego WeDo, EIE kits. etc. Despite this tech-rich environment, we attempt to use technology as tools to meet our curricular goals; to solve real world problems collaboratively. Technology for technology's sake isn't enough.
At our last LEGO night, students were challenged to create a stop-motion film using legos
Fourth graders were challenged to use WeDo to move an animal over a required distance.
With the help of a CDC cartographer, fith graders used ArcGIS software to map underground railroad routes hidden in the lyrics of Follow the Drinking Gourd
Oak grove students continually engage with coding though Hour of Code, We Do, Spheros, Lego Night, Map Skills and Orienteering, and GroveBots Lego Robotics competition.
Map Skills and Orienteering
Using compasses for orienteering teaches sequencing and logical reasoning skills that are necessary for coding. Third grade students learn how to use a compass and practice their knowledge of cardinal directions while moving around an outdoor course of Georgia. It also reinforces their understanding of magnetic poles. Fifth graders not only follow a sequence of directions for different courses, but they also "program" or write a sequence of directions for their classmates to follow that takes them from one Georgia location to another.
QR Colonial Days
Students developed and participated in a scavenger hunt using QR codes and iPads. The activity preceded a PBL around the problem of survival through a, 18th century winter.
Students demonstrate their learning through performance-based assessments and express their conclusions through elaborated explanations of their thinking.
Oak Grove encourages its students to think independently and to express their thoughts freely. Ideas are hammered out in collaborative groups, issues are debated. Products are showcased.
Student Led Portfolio nights
Twice a year Oak Grove portfolio nights where students lead an exhibit of their best work in front of friends and family.
The GroveBots is a team of Oak Grove students who participate in First Lego League competitions.
Grovebots work as a team to find solutions with guidance from coaches and mentors.
They learn together.
and honor the spirit of friendly competition.
What they discover is more important than what they win. And importantly, they share our experiences with others.
All fifth grade students participate in the annual Oak Grove Science Fair. They decide on a topic, conduct research, design and conduct a real experiment, and then explain and defend their work to an adult judge.
Georgia STEM Day
At our 2017 Georgia STEM Day event, (and in the immediate aftermath of the Interstate 85 bridge collapse) all Oak Grove were challenged build bridges - kids explain decision/design
Georgia STEM Day 2016
The Steamboat Challenge asked kids to design a boat capaple of both floating and supporting weight.
Each morning the WOGE news crew, consisting of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders write, produce, and broadcast a live news show. Most days this happens without adult involvement.
Section 2: STEM Educators
The interdisciplinary problem-based curriculum includes a focus on real world applications.
Currently two different grade levels are tackling issues related to recovery from natural and human-made disasters, Below, students are examining how water travels through watershed, and how water pollution has been accelerated in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma.
First grade is looking into ways of combating the alarming potential loss of 640 million acres national parkland.
Our health students are looking into the problem of growing food in limited spaces, and tying this with areas of the world that in which overcrowding and adequate food supply are life and death issues.
STEM educators collaborate as an interdisciplinary team to plan, implement, and improve integrated STEM learning experiences.
Teachers collaboratively develop unit plans ranging typically from 6 to 12 weeks. All subjects are integrated. An example of brainstorming from September 2017:
Grade 4 Unit Plan:
Oak Grove teachers meet monthly in an EdCamp setting. EdCamp is an "organic, participant-driven, un-conference (setting) that empowers educators to maximize professional learning experiences and peer networks." Essentially, topics are generated by participants, leaders emerge, and ideas are shared. Feedback cards on our October, 2017 session:
Regular STEM Core Team Meetings
The team meets monthly to discuss program needs and direction.
STEM learning outcomes demonstrate students’ STEM literacy necessary for the next level of STEM learning and for post- secondary and workforce readiness.
At Oak Grove we are in the process of defining just what it means to be STEM literate. Each grade level will have minimal standards built around the following: Technology Systems, Digital Citizenship, Technology for Learning and Collaboration, Technology for Communication and Expression, and Technology for Information Use and Management.* Students will be well versed in the language of STEM: Project base learning, collaboration, problem solving, engineering design process, etc. Students will also maintain digital portfolios to catalogue work over their years at the school.
*Adapted from http://mdk12.msde.maryland.gov/instruction/curriculum/technology_literacy/vsc_technology_literacy_standards.pdf
STEM teachers and leaders participate in a continuous program of STEM-specific professional learning.
All Oak Grove teachers are given 2 full STEM planning days per semester, This time is used to create integrated, project-based learning units. In weekly team meetins, time is devoted to reflection and adjustment of PBLs.
Stem Coordinator works with administration to plan training that augments the program, whether it is updating the staff on certification status, or addressing hardward and software issues that directly impact the program.