By fourth grade, students begin making up their minds about whether or not they like math. According to a U.S. Congressional House Hearing in 2009, the percentage of girls who say they would not study math anymore given the choice increases in 4th, 8th, and 12th grade from 9 percent to 15 percent to 50 percent respectively. Our goal at the STEAM Exploration Lab is to eliminate the possibilities of this occurring. By providing students in third through fifth grade with the experience of coding robots and designing objects using 3D printers, we’re showing our scientists that what they are learning in the classroom applies to some of the world’s coolest jobs.
For the 2018-19 school year, the Exploration Lab’s themes will be divided into three units aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. These themes are Life Science, Earth and Space, and Physical Science. Engineering topics play an important part of all three themes.
The lab’s year-round technologies include: an interactive SMART Board; iPads loaded with apps related to our themes; zSpace, a virtual reality desktop computer; Dell Inspiron All-In-One desktops; a Makerbot 3D Printing Studio; Osmo; and an HP T2500 poster printer.
Classes spend two hours exploring the lab led by Mrs. Randi Schmidt. Our visiting Engineers work alongside students of the South Bergen Jointure Commission, creating new animals with adaptations to fit a particular ecosystem, engineering stomp rockets to Mars, and building robots programmed to navigate towns and cities.
Students are exploring biomimicry and hydraulics in this unit's Exploration Lab theme. They'll learn about the forces blue crabs use to molt, and then apply that same knowledge to construction of a robot-inspired claw to lift weights.
FOLLOW UP ACTIVITIES
- Complete lesson explaining the purpose and function of Biomimicry. From TeachEngineering.
- Build an Octopus Chromasphere. From Curiosity Machine.
- Explore Biomimicry and Innovation Through Squid Dissection. From TGR EDU Explore.
Randi's currently in her third year of working in the Exploration Lab. She has always loved to read and learn, especially in the areas of science and art. Advancements in technology are especially interesting to her, and being able to bring these technologies into the classroom and teach students new ways to learn always leaves a smile on her face.
In her spare time, she loves keeping our local beaches clean, promoting the welfare of animals, chasing after her 3-year old and curling up with her cat to read a good book. You can contact Mrs. Schmidt at RSchmidt@njsbjc.org.