Page 15 - FIS World Feb 2019
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  Grade 5 student, Aggie, proudly exclaims her favorite explorer is Michael Collins, command pilot for Apollo 11 in 1969. Her classmate, Arthur,
chimes in that the Icelandic explorer Leif Erikson is his favorite because he was the first to set foot on North America ahead of Christopher Columbus.
“He had quite an interesting life spending half of it in exile.” Nearby, another classmate, Allie, declares British Royal Navy Officer Captain Robert Scott as her favorite explorer. He was the first to reach Antarctica. “Sadly, though, he didn’t survive the way home,” she says.
From the far regions of the earth to the moon, these Grade 5 students are immersing themselves in their latest lesson on exploration. More than just learning about what Magellan and Ponce de Leon discovered, these students started with compass reading, and then used technology to make it more engaging. “We wanted to start with the basics and connect the students to the explorers and their tools,” said FIS teacher and Grade 5 Year Head Jennifer Mango. “They started by learning how to build and read a simple compass.”
New technology and equipment in the ES is helping take students’ exploration of science to new heights
exactly where you are.”The students explained even though they were in a familiar location, using the longitude and latitude to determine where to go took them outside their comfort zone. “We had to write in the coordinates, then find where they were on the map, then had to figure how to get there from where we were,” Allie said. “It was fun to experience this as a game and understand how explorers might have felt.”
Bringing STEM to Young Minds
These FIS Grade 5 students are not the only ones benefiting from additional STEM (Science
Technology Engineering and Math) projects in their lessons. Ms. Walton is working with the entire Elementary School team – from Grade 2 to 5 – to organize and prepare science and technology activities to enhance learning experiences, as well as introducing technology as a learning tool.
“Science activities take time,” Ms. Mango said. “Ms. Walton acts as a coach, attending team
meetings and understanding our lesson plans, and then she can connect us with the right tools to make the lesson fun for the students.”
Students already use shared iPads and laptops in school, but Ms. Walton is integrating new tools. Whether it’s incorporating the science makerspace lab, microscopes, EV3 robots, or the virtual reality goggles into a lesson, Ms. Walton is making it simpler for the teachers and more engaging for the students. “I like to teach through engineering. With hands-on activities, students become creative in a different way,” Ms. Walton said. “What I love most about what I do is working with an amazing group of professional teachers and administration who do not put limits on student learning engagements.”
Ms. Walton explains, specifically, the Makerspace engineering projects allow students to problem solve with limited supplies. For example, Grade 3 students were tasked with building water-cleaning devices. Using the tools in the Makerspace lab – a physical location where students can come together to problem solve in a hands-on, collaborative environment with an assortment of random materials – the students designed and developed simple devices moving the water from a cleanliness level three (full of dirt) down to level one (less dirt) with the materials available in the lab.
“It is so cool when a design problem that has been particularly frustrating is worked out through evaluation, testing and redesign,” Ms. Walton said.
“It is also great to see how scientific explanation or learning engagements lead to further student inquiry, and when we work together to satisfy students’ curiosity.”
By layering compass skills with map reading and an understanding of latitude and longitude, the students gain a deeper understanding of not just who the explorers were, but how they navigated to their final destinations.
For the first time, the Grade 5 team, under the direction of the Elementary School’s Science and Makerspace Coordinator, Catherine Walton, introduced students to geocaching. Geocaching uses GPS-enabled devices, such as iPads, to navigate specific coordinates and attempt to find
“treasures” at hidden locations.
By layering compass skills with map reading and an understanding of latitude and longitude, the students gain a deeper understanding of not just who the explorers were, but how they navigated to their final destinations. Together in small teams, using Google Maps on the iPads, Grade 5 students embarked on an egg hunt through the FIS campus
– each egg providing new coordinates for the next clue.
“With explorers across time, from Marco Polo to Neil Armstrong, new technology enabled them to go farther than they could before,” Ms. Mango said.
“With this activity, we wanted students to experience that feeling of not always knowing
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