Imagine visiting a model potato chip factory, thinking like an industrial engineer, exploring an array of simple machines, and investigating the advantages and disadvantages of assembly lines compared to making things by hand. Then collaborate with a team to measure the force it takes to complete a task with and without a simple machine to help. Now gather up all of those experiences and observations and apply them to an engineering challenge–create an assembly-line subsystem for a model potato chip factory. This is STEAM!

First through fifth grade students are exploring and applying science, technology, art and math concepts to engineering challenges in STEAM class. Children are natural engineers; imagining, creating, designing,building and taking apart things just to see how things work. STEAM specialist teachers coach students as they learn that failure is part of the problem-solving process and is a positive learning experience. Students become aware that in engineering, there is no one right answer to solving problems.

The buzz in school hallways is that students can’t wait to go to STEAM class.

“Are we going to build something today?” “I have an idea!”and “Ooh! I got it!” are just a few of the comments that students share in STEAM class. The excitement surrounding the curriculum material and the five subjects of STEAM is exhilarating for teachers as well. Students are engaged and actively exploring each of the pillars in STEAM.

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