At Sam Houston Elementary, we’ve just completed five fun Mondays of STEAM Camp. This after school opportunity met in the Houston Library and was offered to kindergarten and first grade students. Each week, we enjoyed different hands-on activities involving science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.
We had a different focus for our activities each week:
Week 1 - Coding
Week 2 - Engineering
Week 3 - Holiday Fun (this session met on Halloween)
Week 4 - Mathematics
Week 5 - Wrapping it Up
We began discussing the possibility of hosting the camp last spring. There are many after school opportunities for our older students and we wanted to offer something for our younger learners. Also, our campus was blessed with a school-wide Denton Public School Foundation grant last year to create a Makerspace in our library. While all students on campus have the opportunity to create and explore in our Makerspace, STEAM Camp gives students more time to use the Makerspace materials and allows them an opportunity to explore some of the more “techy” materials in a smaller group setting.
Many of our ideas for STEAM Camp came from other experienced educators through sessions we attended at TCEA, TIA, and Tots & Technology. We also found many great ideas for young learners at the blog titled Frugal Fun for Boys & Girls (http://frugalfun4boys.com/).
One of our goals for this camp was to provide STEAM activities that students and families could continue at home. Our activities used free apps, free websites (such as code.org), and other materials that are easy and inexpensive to obtain (toothpicks, marshmallows, craft sticks, etc.). At the end of each session, we would send an email to families explaining what happened during camp that day and how they could continue the fun and learning at home.
We have an emphasis on our campus this year to build leadership skills in our students and staff. We believe that LEADERS are LEARNERS. With the fun our students have had at STEAM Camp, we are excited to see them become leaders at home and in their classrooms as they share what they’ve learned.
We had a terrific response from our staff in providing extra hands each week. Like the students, many of these teachers are excited about what they’ve learned and are taking ideas back to their own classrooms.
Guest Bloggers: Michele Tinch and Michelle McClanahan
Michele Tinch (@michele_tinch) is in her 29th year of teaching and her 24th year at Sam Houston Elementary in Denton. She has taught kindergarten, first, second and third grades in Denton and in Dallas. A Denton Public School Foundation grant in 2012 began her journey using technology to change her teaching and her students' learning. She found STEAM Camp for K & 1 students to be exciting, empowering and fun for all.
Michelle McClanahan (@MichelleMcClan) is the teacher-librarian at Sam Houston Elementary. Before becoming a librarian, she taught 1st and 3rd grades and has worked at schools in Lewisville, Little Elm, and Denton. She enjoys helping students find books they love and has had lots of fun learning about Makerspaces this past year. She also enjoys learning new ideas in technology and ways to share them with students and teachers.