I recently attended a conference aptly named Forging New Links
in Columbus, Ohio. While going through several sessions, I started to notice a trend........Almost everyone that presented or shared taught History, Language Arts, or was involved with a school service group such as student council. I remember in the middle of the second session, thinking to myself- "Where are the Math and Science people!?"
At a certain point, we broke off into subgroups and shared the details of our projects. When people found out that I was using service learning with STEM students, I was actually asked "How do you do SL and STEM at the same time?" Honestly, I was surprised at the question as I didn't see integrating SL into STEM any more difficult than integrating it into a Language Arts or Social Studies lesson. I'm a Science teacher. It's what I have always done. Just because the Maths and Sciences haven't hit full stride yet when it comes to SL, doesn't mean that we cant or shouldn't. Why try Service Learning?
- One- As an educator, I like the fact that my Service Learning projects are interactive and tangible. Kids aren't sitting around bored asking "Why are we learning this? "Where am I going to use this in my life?"
- Two- Although I want to avoid being "preachy," I think it's important that we try to instill some aspects of social responsibility in our young people. Maybe if they notice that they have made a difference through their efforts, they will continue to do so on their own at certain points throughout their lives.
- Three- As a teacher with limited funding, YOU CAN GET FREE STUFF. I spent 3 hours planning and writing a grant through Cleveland State University. It enabled me to attend a conference all expenses paid (sub, hotel, registration, etc). I was able to purchase a $2,000 thermal imaging camera and 3- $100 digital cameras. This grant has also paid for my students to go a couple of field trips. Not to mention the professional development that my entire staff is going to receive.
All that for 3 hours of my time. Hard to believe that it can be that easy.....
For more information either of my projects that my STEM class has/is working on this year, please feel free to refer to a previous blog and follow up postings on MSP2
or my school homepage
. While the main points are there, if you have any questions on any of the particulars please let me know.Part 2
Other than trying to encourage others to tackle service learning, I thought that I might also make this blog a resource by posting possible common Service Learning projects along with ways to integrate Math, Engineering, and Science.
I'll use a project that I'm doing next year as the first example: A class creates a "Victory Garden" and all of the food that is grown is donated to the local food pantry.
Below are possible common ways in which this topic may have been used-
- In Social Studies/History- One could learn about life on the "homefront" during World War II. Rationing. Supply vs. Demand, etc.
- In Language Arts- One could read through and discuss the journals of the different "players." Students could also assume the identity of one of those "players" and compose their own entry.
So how about for STEM? (The following are just a handful off the top of my head)
- Engineering- You actually plan a garden, whereas things are placed so they don't interfere with another plants growth. Create an irrigation system for the garden using PVC. Try to improve the "Topsy Turvy."
- Science- How do plants grow? What is the soil made of? What other mediums can plant grow in? How do those mediums compare? How does the body process food? What are the effects of hunger/starvation on the body?
- Math- Measurement in so many ways. What are the growth rates of the different vegetables? How does the angle of the sun effect growth rate? What is the total area of the food bank? How a many boxes of rice can fit on a 12 ft by 2 shelf. Proportions, Ratios, Fractions, etc
I know that there are people much more creative than myself out there. So if I can do it- I know that you can to.......Please feel free to share some of your ideas. Thanks