“Bio Lab” (CC BY 2.0) by Amy Loves Yah
So our latest iteration of a fifth grade unit of inquiry about material science is underway. As is often the case, there is some tension between the science standards in the unit (all discrete bits of knowledge) and the conceptual framework of the PYP. This time around, we are trying something new — two parallel paths in STEAM. The first path involves students engaging in teacher directed science demonstrations. We think about what is happening and why, the learning skills we are focusing on, and the idea of fair testing. Students can play around a bit and take the demonstrations in different directions to see what happens. The second path is a more familiar one for STEAM, where students seek out problems and then attempt to solve them using material science. It’s only been a week, but the demonstrations have certainly worked well as provocations and students have plenty of questions to investigate through research or through designing their own experiments. The challenge will be in trying to make a ‘traditional’ science unit fit into a STEAM framework.