How do we make STEAM relevant for kids? This is a question we had going into Lokelani Intermediate School on Maui, Hawaii. We struggled with getting the kids to explain to us how technology is used in science and/or in engineering. After providing some context on how athletes leverage mobile technology to help them assess and adjust to improve their performance, the students became more engaged. Because it was familiar content and it was contextual for them, they were able to share with us how athletes plan, produce, present, assess, adjust, and promote progress. This was a victory!
I challenged the students to use what athletes use to assess where they are as individuals and compare themselves with their peers.
They shared with us how important jumping is to an athlete. So, I asked them: “Who can jump the highest in the class?” Roman, an eighth grader, raised his hand. We asked him to jump as high as he could. He did, and the others shared their estimated guess if they could jump higher, just as high, slightly lower, or a lot lower than Roman. We used the tablet’s slow-motion video camera.
I asked the students: “How we can be more accurate with measurement?” They told me that we needed to create a measuring chart behind each jumper to show how high they jump. They measured out lines every six inches and drew it on a whiteboard that storyteller Kepa Meno had in his classroom.
Carter, the student who volunteered, was responsible for capturing all of the data in a spreadsheet. To make it more exciting, we contacted another school in Vista, Ca. and asked them to participate in the experiment with us. They had the same number of students jump as the Hawaiian students used. They videotaped and measured in the same fashion. Carter, the math analyst, collected their data and inputted it into the spreadsheet for a comparative analysis. A few of his peers were responsible for watching and measuring the jumps from the students from Vista.
My favorite part was watching Carter show the data to the other students. They seemed so intrigued and anticipated his analysis.
Together, they chose the right charts to represent the data. I told them that they really thought like physical engineers today. It appeared that they sat a little extra straight afterwards.
I loved watching students high five Carter! According to a few of his teachers, this doesn’t happen as often as they’d like. This is what today showed me. This is what leveraging technology can do. You can change the rules. We can change the traditional relationships in the classroom. We can make students love math, appreciate science, and really understand the importance of what those two subjects can mean to them as they assess and adjust anything.
This was a wonderful learning moment for me! I hope this video showcases the nuances that I experienced on that day with the school team. Thank you for allowing us to have this amazing learning moment with these beautiful learners!
Reflection and video by Marco Torres, Director of Story at Digital Promise