FES 5th/6th Graders Develop Critical Thinking with a STEM Challenge

Target 1. Student-Centered Learning – FWSU students will engage in personalize learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Step – Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students and staff.

Indicator of Success – Students and staff will apply existing knowledge to create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

Fletcher Elementary Grade 5/6 students used their critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a recent math/science class. Students participated in a STEM challenge put before them by their teacher Matt Bresler. The goal for the students was to design and construct a track that would send a marble down an incline into a plastic cup.

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The students were provided with paper, scissors, and tape. They were also provided with a stopwatch to determine the length of time it took for the marble to reach the cup. But most importantly, they were not given instructions. Solving the problem through trial and error was an essential part of the challenge. 

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The project incorporated the critical skills of teamwork, initiative, effective oral communication, analyzing information, curiosity, and  imagination. It also involved the content skills of physics, engineering and math.

“Students had to overcome the challenges of differentiated ideas,” noticed Special Educator Amanda Larose. “They were successful at overcoming that challenge based on the outcomes.” Working with others while solving a challenge is not always easy.

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Along with the challenge, the class all looked at the world of STEM education and careers. “Students learned about STEM careers as they participated” Mr. Bresler explained. It made the challenge more than just a fun and rewarding experience. It made the challenge relevant to our students’ future.

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