STE(A)M Truck Engages Students in Deep Learning

By Marsha Francis, PhD 2 months ago


Back to in-person programming
The sky was clear, the sun was shining—gifting us the most perfect weather to re-launch in person STE(A)M Truck programming for the first time since March 2020. STE(A)M Truck’s magic is experienced through our in-person small-group builds which incorporate hammers, nails, laser cutters, drones and more! This spring, our 7th graders in Clayton County Public Schools were curious, thoughtful and fully engaged in building small and large scale geodesic domes. STE(A)M Truck’s model of in-person, kinesthetic instruction in small groups is just in-time for the challenges presented by the learning interruptions of COVID-19. For these 55 minutes, students were actively engaged, building, thinking and talking about math.

STE(A)M Truck makes learning math relevant
Since our launch in 2014, STE(A)M Truck has wrangled complex and siloed concepts in math and science through a hands-on application of content that is traditionally presented in classrooms as abstract. From the moment students arrive at their crew table during a STE(A)M Truck session, they engage in the act of building as a vehicle for gaining insight into the relevancy and usefulness of applied math skills. Unlike traditional classroom settings where teachers deliver content that students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat, STE(A)M Truck sessions incorporate student choice and natural self-pacing, and give students the ability to use real materials and tools to explore math concepts and real-world problems. In this way, students are more than spectators. They have freedom and agency as they build, and this contributes to deep engagement.

When students intuitively understand the importance of math as an applied science and see its application in current and future opportunities in engineering, fine arts, architecture, gaming, etc., they become more excited about math, and can begin to envision themselves in math-related careers. STE(A)M Truck is excited to return to in-person collaboration with teachers who are invested in incorporating its unique kinesthetic approach to math instruction in order to improve their students’ math outcomes and in order to inspire more Metro Atlanta youth to consider careers in STEM.

STE(A)M Truck engages and empowers teachers, too
STE(A)M Truck is also excited about the opportunity to increase teachers’ capacity to continue this way of teaching and learning with their students. Before we arrive at a site, teachers engage in the major components of each build. The hands-on work demonstrates the relevancy and ease of applying skills necessary to be a “maker.” Teachers fold modular origami, cut PVC with a hacksaw, work together to learn block coding, etc. in the same way their students will experience it during their STE(A)M Truck sessions. By seeing builds in action, from beginning to end, teachers gain the how-to information they need to replicate, extend, and create experiential classroom experiences that strengthen their students’ understanding of math and science concepts. Supporting teachers and students in relevant STEM learning is the core of STE(A)M Truck’s mission.

To learn more about STE(A)M Truck—whether as a potential school partner or as a supporter—click here.

To join L4L’s 8th Grade Math Proficiency Change Action Network, through which we identify and amplify strategies that are working to support traditionally underserved students in metro Atlanta, drop your contact info here.

  Eighth-Grade Math
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