This week, two classes and one event occurred in the lab.
Ms. McMillan’s drama class came into the lab to work on making a Christmas shadow play. Students were experimenting about how shapes in front of a light would be transformed and manipulated as shadows on a wall in the Ogelsby Room. If all goes as planned, the students will put on their show with the middle school orchestra as part of the reading of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ at the Monday Morning Meeting before Christmas Break.
Ms. George’s advisory group continues to come in during homeroom and advisory period using the sewing machine and making belts that they will donate as part of a service learning project. This has been an ongoing project and the class may venture into using wearable technology in the spring semester.
The Eight Grade Science Fair also occurred on Tuesday and the STEAM lab hosted a number of tables for the displays. 10 winners selected by judges and science teachers would advance to regionals in 2016 to compete. All final projects were presented on trifold boards, although in the future, if allowed by the rules, it would be great to see students think outside the traditional trifold setup.
Over the past few weeks, students have been trickling into the lab, to work on their projects, primarily during office hours. At one point, we had 10 different projects being worked, from soldering to drilling and electronic monitoring which was great as part of the breaking in of the lab space. A few observations:
- Students did not get into the lab early enough for them to get the maximum use of the lab. Granted the lab only opened up a the end of October, but only a handful of students came in before hand to see how the STEAM lab could utilized to help in their projects. Despite the science teachers and our best efforts, without advance notice, it is difficult to help out students and unfortunately they wanted instant results. I’m hoping next year with a full semester of working the lab, they will be able to get the results they desire.
- For the first time ever, the science fair was expanded into an engineering fair. Students could apply the scientific method or the design thinking method in order to participate. While it was initiated on a very high level this year, the students didn’t fully embrace the engineering fair option. Furthermore, collaboration with the Shark Tank project makes perfect sense, but again students didn’t take full advantage of this rather simple way to do great work and really halve their workload. One person looking at redesigning the life jacket took advantage of this and ran tests of different materials for floating. Because of his knowledge beyond that of the business/economics ‘silo’, his project was taken to another level, at least on the economics side of the equation. In an ideal situation, either a student or group of students could pick one problem and engage both the science and economic sides of the problem. Alternatively a group of students, if the schedule allowed, a team could tag team a single problem with one group taking the science development side and another group developing the business and economics side. One group in science actually asked a group in economics if they could work on their project, but they didn’t work together, nor did they want to work together, which seems very counterintuitive.
- Although the science fair isn’t in our jurisdiction, it makes sense to better coordinate the Shark Tank deadline and the Science Fair deadline. Also the judging of the science fair, in my opinion, needs to be more consistent and maybe the STEAM lab and its constituents can take part in making it consistent. More discussions throughout the rest of the year with science teachers can hopefully help alleviate these issues.