Budding scientists and engineers have been studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in their Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms in the Shawnee Mission School District.
This year, 10 Pre-K classrooms are participating in a beta launch of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) curriculum for Pre-Kindergarten students. Enrollment is open now for Pre-K in the Shawnee Mission School District. Click here to learn more about the engaging, hands-on learning opportunities available through Shawnee Mission’s Pre-K program.
PLTW is available to Shawnee Mission students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and provides pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science.
In Jamie Vondrasek’s classroom at Rising Star Elementary School, students conducted multiple experiments to learn more about the world around them. During one week this spring, they focused on liquids and solids and what items will float and sink.
To learn about this concept, students melted toys out of ice blocks and painted with water on the sidewalk to learn about evaporation. Students created artwork that sorted pictures of items that represented liquids and solids. Finally, they made ice cream to learn how liquids and solids can change.
Vondrasek said these activities brought “new life and energy” to the classroom.
In another lesson about the concept of floating and sinking, students were encouraged to build a device that would float a message to a friend across a small body of water. One parent shared with Vondrasek that even though his creation did not work at school, he kept building new flotation devices at home. He finally created one that worked.
Though students were learning about STEM, they also learned other helpful skills in the process, Vondrasek said.
“He didn’t give up and I love it,” Vondrasek said. “We teach persevering even when things are hard or do not work. These activities help students build creative and problem-solving skills, work as a team, and strengthen socialization skills.”