Engineering in Elementary School?
Christ the King school had the honor of becoming the first Florida Catholic Conference accredited STREAM school in the State of Florida. STREAM stands for Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Math. The integration of STREAM occurs using project-based learning opportunities where students can get their hands dirty. One such project is their Strawberry Creek Project. The school is nestled in the crook of a spring fed creek (Strawberry Creek) with extensive marshlands that reflect some of their amazing natural Florida Ecosystems. This natural resource serves as the venue for a five year (and counting) environmental and water study by the sixth grade students in conjunction with the Backpack Project for the St. Johns Riverkeepers. They also have an outdoor classroom with a marshland viewing deck for their younger students to investigate and use throughout the year.
As an extension of this project, they have also created an educational viewing area inside the school for many animals that are native and non-native to Florida including 3 snakes, a leopard gecko, a blue tailed skink, as well as turtles. The area includes panoramic wall paintings created by students to look exactly like the Strawberry Creek marshlands and forest area. This extensive cross-curricular project also involves working with the Technology teacher for videos and digital poster creation, social studies and religion teacher for local historical information and Catholic Social Teaching integration, the Engineering Lab for creation of tank wall, animal habitats and pump system, the Art teacher for student artwork and wall mural, and finally the science teachers for environmental education including wetlands, and plant and animal species information. In addition to environmental science education, students learn to be good stewards for the animals in their care.
In addition, Christ the King has a formidable array of tools that are available (after safety training) that allows for innovative and creative problem solving. All projects are based in real world problems and skill building, such as engineering calipers to measure the diameter of a tree or creating a space suit that protects you from extreme atmospheric conditions on Mars, or even developing a water recovery system for their extensive gardens.
No matter what projects students are working on, they work together to develop innovative and creative solutions that have a positive impact on the earth and their fellow man. Students use the Catholic Social teachings to help guide them to make positive choices in solving problems and creating solutions.