Leaders in Learning — Students learn science and math through various hands-on tools

Published: Jun. 5, 2018 at 5:45 PM MDT
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A third grade teacher at Filer Elementary received a grant from CapEd, allowing her to buy a STEM Cart for students to learn science, technology, engineering and math with many different tools.

Sheena Kelsey, a third grade teacher and the science lead at Filer Elementary, said she has been wanting to do the 'Stem To-Go' cart for years.

"My principal, in the beginning of the year, said what do you need, what's your dream here since you're the science lead," Kelsey explained. "I said I've really wanted this for many years, and she wrote up all these grants and CapEd came through and gave us about $10,000, and it gave us this beautiful car that's been awesome."

The cart includes stations for students to study materials with a microscope, a kit to make fossils and more.

"The worksheets just doesn't cut it anymore. To be able to sit there and to lecture these kids and expect them to absorb all of it, they need to be hands-on," she said. "The world is hands-on. We're not just sitting still doing worksheets in the real world."

The unit the students were on was about rocks and fossils. For student Tristen Kelsey, he said his favorite station was mining the cookies.

Students had to go through the cookies with tweezers and toothpicks to pick out little ingredients such as chocolate chips, coconut strips or nuts.

"I got to do a lot of math and one of my favorite things is math. I got to make a graph and I got to to open a cookie and look what's inside a cookie," he said.

Tristen said they learned about many different types of rocks.

"There are many different rocks. Not just minerals, but that there are igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks and sedimentary rocks," he said.

Student Amare Hadley said she feels like a scientist when she is at the stations learning about rocks.

"I feel like I'm doing all the stuff scientists do," she said.

Her favorite station was where she got to make fossils.

Kelsey said the students get excited about seeing fossils.

"When they get to see the fossils, when they get to see something and they're like 'oh, that was something that is 416 million years old," she said. "I have some of those real fossils and the kids get to touch them. You feel like you're part of something that's gone, and you get to be a part of that reality, so for a moment, it's pretty awesome for them."

She said she doesn't think there is one kid or student who did not love what they were doing in the classroom.

Students also used a microscope. Kelsey said they are digital micro-stereo microscopes and students had to examine different rocks.

"One of my rocks was like 25 grams and there's obsidian and all kinds of rocks in there," Tristen said.

"I tell them, every scientist is a king and queen at using adjectives to describe something and every one of my students, they want to be a scientist when they grow up. So they have to learn these things. You have to know math, you have to be able to add things, you've got to be able to use that computer and technology," she continued. "It's not just about the science, it's truly about the STEM and all of Filer is very much getting on-board to make that a big part of our curriculum."

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