Every Thursday afternoon at Lake Valley Elementary School, enthusiastic students hustle to their special STEAM class. They may not realize what they are learning falls under science, technology, engineering, arts or math. All they know is they are having fun and learning all sorts of new things.
Grouped by grade levels - first and second, third and fourth, fifth and sixth - students decide the top three classes they want to be involved in for the next 10 weeks. They are guaranteed a spot in one of the three.
The older students have 10 choices which include Cooking with Math, American Sign Language, Bird Houses or Force and Motion. Middle grades are offered nine choices, such as Balloon Rockets, Boats and Bridges, Geometric Explosions, or Designing Windmills. The youngest set may want to learn more about Fossils and Rocks, Space, Printmaking, or Seasonal Art, or four other choices.
The classes are "student interest based," said LVES Tusanne Cordes. This means at the end of the school year, students come together to recommend which classes to continue and maybe suggest something new. Teachers and staff with differing talents will take on whatever the students decide.
On Thursday, Oct. 2, the Zumba Kids divided into two teams and used their cooperative skills and large body movement to play Rock, Paper, Scissors.
The printmakers found out what images vegetables make with paint and paper. They used carrots, apples, green peppers, celery, corn on the cob, potatoes and star fruit.
In the kitchen, the cooks followed directions with ingredients, measuring spoons and cups, and mixing beaters to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
Third- through sixth-graders worked on vocabulary skills while asking and answering questions in American Sign Language about families. Teacher Amy Bowser showed the class the motions for "Sister, how many, you?" to ask how many sisters the other person has.
"It's one thing to sign. It's another to read others' signs," Bowser told them.
In December, students will show their parents what they have learned at Parent Culmination Night. Then, when school resumes in January, it's time once again to make the tough decision on which STEAM class to select for their first, second and third choice.