ST 1.3

ST 1.3 - Students are empowered to personalize and self-direct their STEM learning experiences supported by STEM educators who facilitate their learning.

Choice is an essential part of every day at Red Cedar Elementary. Teachers and staff provide a variety of opportunities for choice in everyday learning activities, daily routines and especially the PBL units.  Choice empowers our students and helps them make connections throughout their life experiences and goals. Students are provided opportunities for choice in a variety of ways such as choosing methods to solve a problem, materials or mediums, and to how they would best like to represent their evidence. Failure is often evident through this and teachers work to facilitate discussions to help learners critically think through their choices and make necessary adjustments to lead to their success.

Kindergarten Toy Making 
Students designed and created a toy using various materials and the Engineering and Design Process (EDP) to present to a panel of judges based on “The Toy Box” reality show. They tested and analyzed data based on concepts such as the size, texture, color, flexibility, ability to sink or float, etc.  They wrote instructions for how to use or create the toy.

Second Grade Sails ProjectSails and EDP
The student’s target goal was to develop and use models to describe and compare the effects of wind (moving air) on objects. They first had to analyze the provided materials to determine which of the materials would catch/move in the wind and which would not.  The student’s examined videos and books containing sailboats to help them determine the design of their boats. Students then built their sailboats and tested them on a track. They modified and adjusted their model until their boats were able to sail to the end of the track.

(Picture: Post by teacher to parents in  the classroom management page in ClassDojo)

Kindergarten Trash to Treasure
Kindergarten students collected recyclable trash, tested it to see how they could use it in a project, and then used the materials to create and design a  “treasure”.

Trash to Treasure

Second (or Third) Language Learning
Students in Ms. Smith’s fourth grade class showed an interest in learning a different language. Through the use of Beaufort County’s Rosetta Stone partnership, students each picked a language they wanted to pursue and through the software have explored language fundamentals and vocabulary independently in homeroom each morning. As students continue to acquire new content and vocabulary in their second (or third) languages, they are also working on their conversational skills by speaking with other students who chose the same language. During homeroom students also have the opportunity to listen to words and phrases in languages besides the one they are learning, opening the door to conversations of multi-cultural diversity and globalism. At the end of the year students will participate in a global cultures celebration, where they will showcase food and music from their chosen country, and will have the chance to demonstrate their language skills.

Butterfly Garden
As part our unit on the environment, first grade students studied real-world problems facing our Earth as a result of pollution, climate change, and endangered species.  We found information about how certain bee species are dwindling in numbers. We explored the role of bees, and how their job as pollinators is critical to many plant species’ survival.  The students considered many ways that they could address this issue, including alternative species of pollinators, like butterflies. They researched ways to attract butterflies to certain areas and discovered the idea of a butterfly garden! Using plants that they solicited donations of from local nurseries, the students designed and planted a butterfly garden outside of our classroom.  They studied the number of butterflies that visited the playground before and after planting the garden, and collected data on the frequency which they observed them to determine whether or not the project was successful in increasing the number of pollinators that visited the playground.

Butterfly Garden

Inquiry-Based Research Project
As part of our fifth grade writing curriculum, students were working on research skills using primary and secondary sources. To help personalize their learning, the teacher encouraged them to choose their topic or person of interest to research. They were able to navigate their sources and utilize technology and communication skills to conduct surveys, interviewed people and compile their information in written form. They chose their method of delivery where many chose to create their own website using Google Sites. They created the design and navigation while the teacher ensured they were including the appropriate information. Below is a sample of one student-created website.