STEM is the DNA of learning at Middleton Elementary

7:34 AM, Apr 11, 2013   |    comments
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WOODBURY, Minn. -- "For me, science is hands on," said 5th grade teacher Angie Schock at Middleton Elementary in Woodbury.

She's not kidding.  Half of her students are building and testing solar panels, while the other half is testing the capabilities of the robots they built themselves. 

The action is non-stop and that's the way school administrators like it.

"Yes, we have the legos and the robots and the programming, but it's more about instilling that curiosity," explained Principal Julie Nielsen.

With the support of the district, and generous grants from 3M, the school was able to purchase the technology that's used in second through fifth grades. 

"In the early grades, it's about developing the curiosity about how science and technology works," said Nielsen.

That's no problem in Megan Zachman's class.  "Once you get the hang of it, it's not hard at all," said second grader Bjorn Benson.  He and his partner Emerson Siefken are testing their robot, that looks like an alligator.

"It makes sound effect 17, which is chomp," said Siefken.

Every student in Zachman's class has built and tested a robot, all of which invites collaboration, trial and error, and a fair amount of fun.

"Why not aim high?  These kids love legos.  What a fun way to incorporate some things we've been learning and just try it?" said Zachman.

"In second grade we talk about the levers and pulleys and motion and balance," said Nielsen. "All the way up to fifth grade where we talk about renewable resources."

The goal is to get kids to learn how to solve problems, and most importantly, to not be afraid to fail.

"Developing that curiosity and that ability to question, to work with each other, to make mistakes and go back," said Nielsen, "All what while learning and having fun can really be created with science and technology together."

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All rights reserved.)

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