Medina students in grades 3-6 put STEAM to the test with creative challenges

Posted 1 March 2023 at 9:41 am

Provided photos: Jason Klein observes students in Mrs. Duhow’s 5th grade class with their tower challenge: Oscar Lopez, Avery Twitchell and Amber O’Kussick.

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – District Technology Integrator Jason Klein attended a professional development session called “Infusing STEAM into Today’s Instruction.” It inspired him and Julie Webber (Director of Curriculum and Instruction) to plan a day for Clifford Wise students of STEAM education.

Third-grader Jack Buondonno made this creation, Scarpkins, from recycled materials.

STEAM is an education approach to learning the uses of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics for guiding student inquiry, communication, and critical thinking.

“We decided to go “Full STEAM Ahead” at Clifford Wise Intermediate School,” says Klein. “We started the day with a school-wide presentation from author, illustrator and maker, Brian Yanish, where he encouraged students to think outside the box and reuse recyclables in new and innovative ways.”

After a fun filled and enlightening presentation, students worked with their peers to compete in a variety of STEAM challenges that encouraged problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork.

“Brian Yanish’s presentation inspired the students and really got their creative juices flowing,” said Klein. “They used that momentum in their STEAM challenges. The students were enthusiastic and excited and couldn’t wait to share their creations and solutions with their peers, teachers and family. I heard one student say, ‘Time really does fly by when you are having fun.’”

The STEAM challenges were broken down by grade. Grade 3 had the Scrapkins: Junk Re-Thunk Challenge where they had to design and build a character using recycled materials.

Grade 4 took on the Amazing Architecture Challenge where they built a home for their rubber duck using 50 marshmallows and 50 toothpicks. Fifth grade was assigned the Newspaper Tower Challenge where they used the engineering design process to design and build a structure at least 30” tall to support a basketball for at least three seconds.

Lastly the sixth graders had the Slo-Mo Marble Challenge where they used the Engineering Design Process to design and build the slowest marble run out of recycled materials.

“I believe that the students got a lot of out of this day,” Klein said. “Our goal was to inspire and empower lifelong learners through hands-on STEAM education that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and a passion for innovation. We hope students, and even teachers, take away that STEAM is about creativity, trial, error and having fun. If students are not ‘successful’, that’s okay because it is part of the process.”

Julie Webber added, “This opportunity truly allowed students to embrace and love learning through exploration. Statements like ‘I don’t want to go home’ and ‘No… The buses are coming!’  were heard from the students. Even the teachers and staff enjoyed participating with the students. Learning is not just about memorizing facts, it’s about applying the knowledge that we learn. Students had a great opportunity to do this!”

Jason Klein and Brian Yanish pose are shown with students from Mrs. Scott’s third grade class: Cai Ree Lorenz, Alexis Sherman and Jordan Hammonds with their Scrapkins.

Kole McMullen and Santiago Velez in Mrs. Lemme’s 4th grade class plan out an architecture challenge.