BLASDELL, N.Y. (WIVB)– With many kids still learning from home, it can be challenging to get kids involved in hands-on activities that focus on STEAM.
STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
A group of teachers in the Frontier Schools found a unique way to do just that.
With students only in school twice a week in Blasdell, teachers Amanda Shea, Natasha Bueme and Katelyn Piraino told us making sure their social and emotional needs are met has been a top priority.
“They do have a lot of thoughtful things that they’re saying and putting their hearts out there,” Piraino said.
So how do teachers create a sense of community, while integrating important learning lessons with STEAM?
Well, they came up with challenges that get entire households involved and then allow for meaningful conversation afterward.
In December, they challenged students to make gingerbread houses out of anything they had at home.
Piraino told us, “So we had standard gingerbread houses made out of cookies, we had them made out of different objects. We even had a life-size gingerbread house submitted that was a little playhouse that was made out of a box.”
At the end of the challenge, every student was asked to help judge the gingerbread houses and talk about them.
“The excitement factor is really back when we do something like this. I hear kids saying, ‘oh I’m going to go home and do that! I’m going to make that!’ Even after the contest is done.”Katelyn Piraino, Teacher, Blasdell Elementary School
And this past month, they challenged students to create snowmen.
Blasdell Elementary School Natasha Bueme said, “Some of them even dressed up their dog as a snowman, some of them ended up using different craft materials. They went wild and crazy and they got very creative.”
Amazon gift cards are given out as prizes.
The money comes from dress-down days at schools and a massive can and bottle drive that Amanda came up with back in the fall.
And after all the positive feedback these teachers have received, they’re now offering the challenges to all teachers in the building monthly. All grade levels can get involved.
They’re calling it the “Stop Everything and STEAM” program.
“A new way for them to be able to implement that STEAM activity and still have it be meaningful learning,” Shea said.
In May, the teachers are trying to bring back the highly-popular invention convention, in a safe and socially distanced way.
Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.