The first official program of ESSTEAM Lab was a success!
STEAM in Nature was successful in that the campers had a great time, everyone stayed safe, campers learned a lot, and new friendships were made. We had a fairly small group of 7 kids ranging from 1st grade to 5th, with just myself as the leader. Everyday started with a teambuilder or two for an hour, then there were three main lesson periods with lunch and two snack breaks throughout the day. A brief overview of the camp is as follows:
- Monday: We made simple pocket-size microscopes, bug collectors, and nature journals, then went out to use them.
- Tuesday: The morning was all about the carbon cycle and carbon sequestration, then solar ovens, solar prints, and ocean acidification activities in the afternoon.
- Wednesday: This was our “engineering survival” day, with building water filters in the morning, then forts all afternoon.
- Thursday: This was our biomimicry focused day. To start things off, in the morning, we did several activities to highlight physical structures and adaptations of plants and animals. We then shifted to general design thinking in the afternoon, ending with a biomimicry design challenge.
- Friday: We put the “A” in STEAM with some recycled materials art in the morning, then did solar activities in the afternoon- sundials and solar whirlygigs.
Keep scrolling down for pictures and student/parent feedback!
When asked what their favorite lessons were, the students overwhelmingly decided that forts, the solar activities, and the microscope/bug collector/journal were the top three. I did a pre and post survey and the biggest gain by far was that all students felt comfortable explaining the carbon cycle by the end of camp (compared to one at the beginning). However, I was most excited that there was a student who had NEVER used a microscope before this camp, and was not only given the chance to use one, but make one and take it home!
- “Thank you for creating a great week for her- she absolutely LOVED the camp! We will be sure to check out future classes/camps of yours, and highly recommend to our friends!”
- “Mats and Clara loved this camp week more than any other we have tried (which is a lot). Katie is a talented educator. :)”
My Lessons Learned
In the future, I will make sure to have sports equipment like a bouncy ball available during the breaks; I had planned brain teasers and brought games like Spot It with me, but sometimes everyone just needed to get the physical energy out. I also need to rework the biomimicry lesson a bit, adapted for that age group. Since the majority of my campers were entering 2nd grade, they struggled a bit given the constraints and conditions of the biomimicry challenge as I presented it.