Couch Middle School celebrates Georgia STEM Day….and beyond
By Karen L. McGinnis
On May 6, 2016, Couch Middle School Students experienced a whirlwind celebration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities to celebrate Georgia STEM Day.
Right: Measuring Up
In sixth grade, students could be seen all over the school practicing measurement skills, participating in Maker Fair activities sponsored by the Grayson Public Library, designing and building a LEGO boat that would float, engaging in Code.Org activities, practicing precision and accuracy in measuring ingredients and learning about the physical changes of making homemade ice cream. Our seventh grade students were completing pig dissections as a science enrichment unit as well as engaging in a presentation by the CDC regarding infectious diseases and epidemics following their completion of reading Fever 1793.
Seventh grade decided this was not enough STEM for this school year however. Teachers and our SRO (School Resource Officer), Elizabeth Concepcion, worked collaboratively to create an additional curriculum enrichment opportunity incorporating the “Science and Math of Fire and Rescue Service Careers”. This event was held on May 23rd and included students participating in three demonstrations/presentations: a Snellville PD Canine Unit and a team of local school SROs provided demonstrations that supported the study of body systems, the chemistry of substance testing, and the math behind accident reconstruction. The second session included an interactive discussion of the physics of flight along with emergency trauma care from an Air Methods helicopter rescue and transport team. Fire and EMS personnel from Grayson Fire Station #8 rounded out our day with a reinforcement of science and math that included safety tips and the physics of temperature, melting point, water pressure, and simple machine force concepts needed for their rescue service jobs. This was a great “second” STEM Day at Couch Middle School, and we thank Officer Concepcion for orchestrating this event for our seventh grade students!
Left: Canine Unit presentation
These two special days were not the only STEM/STEAM Project-Based Learning days that took place at CMS. Throughout this school year, our students participated in a school-wide Science Fair, extended-day science field studies in both sixth grade (Ruby Falls and Tellus Science Museum) and seventh grade (Tybee Island Coastal Ecology and Marine Life Science), and five different weeks of STEM-Enrichment during our Extending Learning Time. Over 60% of our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students not enrolled in double year-long Connections courses completed one semester of either Computer Science or Technology and Engineering Connections courses that support STEM. Students also had the opportunity to participate in six different before-school Maker Fairs throughout the school year emphasizing project-based learning, and one of five competing Robotics Club teams made it to the State VEX Middle School Competition!
Students at each grade also experienced integrated “STEAM” learning units where the language arts, math, science, and social studies teachers pulled together to provide interdisciplinary content learning enrichment that directly supported current learning topics. The sixth graders embarked on an expedition to Mt. Everest through a novel study of PEAK and related science, social studies, and math activities during second semester. In seventh grade, students transformed their classes into an Iditarod competition. Students followed the actual race on their electronic devices through an Iditarod tracking app; they used incorporated math to budget and use statistics for key musher drafting and planning trip costs and supplies, applied the science of genetics to determine sled dog traits and dichotomous keys, and blended social studies and literacy through articles and activities centered around the themes of geography and writing a document-based argumentative essay. In eighth grade, a team of students studied and created a living history timeline of “WW2: The Bomb” to present to others that included creating WW2 secret codes using math functions, participating in a radioactive half-life activity, and viewing a drama presentation of key WW2 historical figures. Fine Arts also made huge impacts with a superb showing of concerts, Tapestry Art show, and a four-show, 200+ student cast of the musical, The Lion King, Jr. this spring. Stay tuned for more STEM/STEAM excitement at Couch Middle School in 2016-17!
Below: Life flight team comes to STEM