Last Friday marked the 3rd Annual STEAM fair put on by our Ka Paʻalana program. Different educators came from around the island to discover the STEAM curriculum and see how it is implemented in the classroom. It was a “journey of the different experiences teachers had while developing the curriculum,” explained one Ka Paʻalana staff member.
The initial purpose of the STEAM Fair was to help our program families experience STEAM on a dramatic level with large, interactive activities to get them excited about the new curriculum Ka Paʻalana was implementing in their preschools during the first year of STEAM. Now that STEAM has been ongoing, the Fair is used to share Ka Paʻalana’s work with others and to provide professional development.
What is STEAM?
STEAM is “Science and Technology interpreted through Engineering and Arts, all based in Mathematical elements.” A big name for a big program! An inquiry-based approach, STEAM has been shown to improve students’ ability to problem-solve creatively, increase critical thinking, and show them a different way to value the arts, according to Concordia University in Portland, OR.
The seven stations at the Fair included “The Science of Sound,” pulled from September’s theme of teaching the keiki how to create sounds by using vibration and different types of materials. Participants practiced math through the use of beats and patterns. Keiki, even little babies, modeled their caregivers and experimented with new and unfamiliar items.
Another station was “Float Your Boat,” which taught the concepts of sink and float. Students had to plan out what their boat would look like and use the given materials at the creation station to construct it. Finally at the testing stations, they would see if their boat could sail and how much weight it could carry and still float. Plan, create, try, repeat was the process here.
“My Kalo Has Lau, Big and Green” taught how to use books or stories to create STEAM activities. The science activity involved creating “clean mud” to mimic the mud used in a loʻi. Participants had a chance to pound kalo and sing a song, rhythmically pounding in time to the beat. Finally there was engineering through constructing an uhauhumu pōhaku (retaining wall) with sandbag pōhaku (stones).
There was no clear favorite among the stations, but it was clear that the educators and caregivers were impressed with the activities created by our Ka Paʻalana staff. There were fewer activity centers than in past fairs but the space and time were filled more intentionally. The participants took their time going through the activities as the keiki would. They networked with each other , engaging in discussions regarding STEAM. The bar has been set high for next year and we look forward to watching the keiki grow and learn through these activities with Ka Paʻalana.