STEM Grant Offers 3rd Graders Hands on Learning
Posted On:
Friday, January 05, 2018
News Image

Ask any 3rd grader at Chapin Street School who Jay Mankita is, and they will tell you- he’s the science guy! The science guy who has been sharing his love of hands-on STEM activities thanks to a STARS (Students and Teachers working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars) grant, fully funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Chapin Street Principal, Nikki Reed, explained that she applied for the grant in September and was pleased to learn that it was fully funded.  “In the past we have used the grant application to fund the Pages to Stage program for our 2nd graders.  This year we thought it would be nice to try something new and offer this STEM program to our 3rd graders.”

Mankita has been guiding and inspiring Chapin Street student engineers one time per week for 80 minute sessions, over a three week period. According to the grant the goal of the program is to develop insight and skills through experiential learning in the areas of: 1. creative design; 2. basic forces and motion physics; and 3. specific tools and techniques which tie these together.

“My goals for this work are to engage students and teachers, have a great time with them, and provide resources and inspiration for learning to happen,” summarized Mankita. “There is no one right way to do this. The lessons are about doing, and the learning happens, even when it's not obvious.”

Learning through demonstration, play, and exploring the basic materials and techniques of domino walls and rallies, exploding popsicle stick snakes, archimedes screws, and building small cause & effect (Rube Goldberg machines) chain reactions, students developed an understanding of simple machines and how they work. In addition, students engaged and motivated each other, while they practiced applying their new knowledge and skills in fun, satisfying ways; making appropriate connections to grade level curriculum in math, science, engineering, and visual arts.

“My students enjoyed exploring different systems and experimenting to see chain reactions.  They worked individually and in groups with a variety of tools and instruments,” explained 3rd grade teacher, Sally Condino-Kelly.  

“Sometimes they got it right; other times they failed,” continued Condino-Kelly.  “What they did come away with was a sense of accomplishment.  We discussed how scientist often have to try things over and over again to come up with a final product. It was a fun, engaging program that got students excited about science and pushed them to think out of the box.”

Gabriel Iwaniec was very excited to share his experience with Mr. Jay, “I really liked going there a lot. I wish it didn’t have to end. I learned that there are a different kinds of science - simple machines, different forces, gravity in space.”

“It was cool to be able to make all kinds of inventions and play different fun games.” enthusiastically shared Iwaniec. “ I like making things; I made something that launched into the air and I’d like to make more of those.”    

Payton Dersarkisian was so impressed with the Domino chain reaction that she had a mission to create her own.  “I used about fifty Dominoes and lined them up like a wave, about one inch apart.  It was harder to do than it looked, but it was really fun watching them fall!”

“Jay’s passion for everything science was contagious. The hands-on lessons he provided captured the attention of our students, sparked their imagination and encourage teamwork and creativity,” exuberantly said Reed.  “Students were exposed to a wide variety of activities and opportunities to peak their curiosity, explore, create, have fun, encourage independent thinking, and learn.”  

“It was such a huge success that we hope to now create our own STEM makerspace and provide time for our students to continue to explore, learn, experiment, and have fun, with hands on materials,” shared Reed.  “It is important that we tap into student creativity and allow them to demonstrate their knowledge in fun and interactive ways.”


View all Highlights