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It’s Full STEAM Ahead for Science SOLs at Hoffman-Boston

Today is my last class at Hoffman-Boston for the 2015-2016 school year. And what a year it has been! Teaching artist Ms. Kathleen Burnard and I have had the opportunity to teach ETC STEAM after school classes to 1st grade students at Hoffman-Boston all year. We are incredibly grateful to the Washington Forrest Foundation, whose grant made these classes possible at no cost to the students and their families.

Ms. Kathleen and I love to encourage creative thinking and problem-solving in our classes. Using the STEAM initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), we use theatre exercises and games to prepare students for the 1st grade science SOL standardized tests. Though we’ve been teaching shared curriculum, as teaching artists and actors, we each bring our own creativity and teaching style to our classrooms. Every day, we choose inventive ways to review vocabulary as we play theatre games and act out original stories. Our 1st grade students have learned about weather, seasons, gravity, magnets, life processes and more!

To celebrate our successful year, I’d like to share a few of my favorite class moments:

Weather and Seasons

To add flair to our class sharing, Ms. Kathleen brought in a mason jar, can of shaving cream, and food dye. The result? Our own in-class cloud and rain simulation!

That sharing was months ago, and yet I cannot get the “How’s the Weather? song out of my head! I am definitely looking forward to the flowers all this rainy weather and warm temperatures will bring us soon!

Gravity, Force and Motion, and Magnets​​

This class was more challenging than some because we were learning about things like gravity and force which are invisible. (With the release of the new STAR WARS film, we also had to be clear that we were discussing force in our solar system and not in a “galaxy far, far away..”) One class, I brought in a pair of magnets so that everyone could experience the push and pull of magnetic force. The students were absolutely delighted--the look of shock that they could actually feel the oppositional force was a memorable moment for me. This led to a fun game of “mirroring” our bodies, imagining that there was an opposing magnetic force between our fingertips.

Life Processes of Plants and Animals

Of the three sessions, this was naturally a crowd favorite--who doesn’t love to pretend to be an animal? The best part of this class was helping the students create and perform an original story. My class’s play involves a variety of animals and plants who don’t have what they need to survive at the beginning. Throughout their adventure, the animals and plants strive to get what they need--food, water, and a safe place to live. There’s an element of danger when the wolves arrive, but all is well in the end.

It has been an incredible year, and I have loved finding ways to reinvent my favorite theatre games and exercises to explore science topics! It has been an adventure, seeing students’ eyes light up as we discover together how the world works and even that people are animals too!

Our class sharing is Tuesday, May 10 at 4:20 at Hoffman-Boston Elementary, and we would love to see you there!

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