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STEM workshops aim to inspire students during fall break

Friday, October 28, 2016

Image of fifth-grade girl working over a poster board covered in colorful pompoms

Fifth-grade girl works over a poster board covered in colorful pompoms

Students from three elementary schools in District 49 recently attended a two-week POWER Zone workshop to inspire pursuits into scientific knowledge and processes. The three-hour workshops held over a fall break were designed to support budding science, technology, engineering and math skills, according to Bobby Gagnon, STEM consultant.

Student learned about the planet’s core, states of matter and the tools of science. Gagnon is a senior instructor at University of Colorado Colorado Spring and is part of UCCS Teach, a collaborative program for earning a bachelor's degree in mathematics or science, along with a secondary school teaching license.

Gagnon met with teachers from all three elementary schools to determine the STEM topics.  He created lessons with third-grade teacher Amanda Bower, who earned a bachelor’s in biology and elementary school education from UCCS.

For a lesson on rock cycles, the students discussed the ways rocks form, break down and reform. They explored the differences between igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic formations. Gagnon had students pretend crayons were igneous rocks and asked about ways they could be weathered or eroded. With hands in the air, stories of water and wind unfolded.

Workshops like these help students make connections to the real world and when they go to places like Garden of the Gods they can appreciate a space where millions of years of geologic processes led to colorful, sculpted layers of sedimentary rock.

“Science is about curiosity. Students need to see that science isn’t about memorization; it’s about creativity and problem solving,” says Gagnon. “Everything we’re doing here today teaches elementary level standards, but our goal is to elaborate on concepts, so students are inspired to make meaningful, real world connections.”

Gagnon hopes to offer the workshops again during spring break, one for elementary school students in third through fifth grades, the other for sixth- through eighth-graders at Skyview Middle School.

To learn more, visit http://www.d49.org/STEM-Workshops-Aim-to-Inspire.  

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