Elementary STEAM Lab

The STEAM Lab at SouthLake Christian Academy was started in 2014 through an initial $10,000 donation to purchase LEGO© Education sets. In its first year, the lab was open for kindergarten, first and second grade students. Now the STEAM Lab has been expanded to give all elementary students the opportunity for hands-on, engaged learning that ignites their natural desire to explore and discover.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. The SouthLake Christian lab offers a variety of tools to give students experience in each of these areas. Students in junior kindergarten through grade 3 come to the lab each week. Grades 4 and 5 split their time between the STEAM Lab and the Computer Lab. STEAM lab includes DUPLO© bricks for junior kindergarten and kindergarten students, and then moves up to LEGO© bricks as boys and girls increase their fine motor skills.

In addition to hands-on manipulation with bricks, the lab offers a dozen touch-screen computers which are fully integrated with the student projects through USB or Bluetooth connectivity. Students have the opportunity to build a 3-D model and then connect it to a program which gives them additional opportunities for innovation.

The STEAM Lab brings abstract math, language arts, engineering and science concepts to life in a fun and engaging way. LEGO© builds turn numbers, words and ideas into tangible models that students can further animate in the computer programs. Students learn to collaborate to solve problems and are encouraged to become an active part of the learning process.

“We work very hard to integrate what the students are learning in the classroom with their lessons in the STEAM Lab each week,” says STEAM Lab instructor Jennifer Asher. “Using this hands-on integration sparks their imagination and makes learning come to life for our students.”

Elementary students at SouthLake Christian are introduced to these concepts in the STEAM Lab:

Junior Kindergarten – StoryTales© introduces young students to early language and creative exploration. As the

students advance, they move on to creating simple machines and understanding gears and motion.

Kindergarten – students begin building with the larger DUPLO© bricks and as their dexterity and fine motor skills progress they transition into LEGO© bricks. Kindergarteners explore more complicated machines as they begin to understand gears and motion.

1st Grade – students move into MoreToMath© curriculum which provides hands-on math problem solving, manipulatives and even lessons on symmetry where they construct a butterfly.

2nd Grade – students finish the MoreToMath© advanced concepts and then move on to building machines and learning beginning engineering with WeDo 1.2©. This computer-driven technology enables students to manipulate their build projects with simple programming.

3rd Grade – StoryStarter© is a new curriculum this year for the third grade. Students will write a story and then illustrate it with a LEGO© build. After they capture the image on their computer, students will be able to manipulate backgrounds, create action and top it all off with word bubbles. The finished product will be a fun and fascinating graphic novel.

4th Grade – students will integrate lessons on space, oceans and wildlife in the brand new WeDo 2.0©. Simple robots with motors, gears and pulleys have a Bluetooth-enabled connection to the computer programs that run the build.

5th Grade – Brand new curriculum will allow students to continue with the WeDo© 2.0 curriculum integrated with their classroom studies in weather.

SouthLake Christian has plans to continue expanding the STEAM Lab well into the future. This year, sixth graders will use the lab on a limited basis in conjunction with some of their history and science curriculum. Plans are also being made to move into middle school grades with EV3©, a LEGO MINDSTORMS© robotics curriculum.