The cornerstones of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) education are very compatible to those within the Montessori Method: Hands-on, exploratory, project-based, child-centered, and inquiry-based experiential instruction. Through the use of STEAM activities, we help to create students who innovate and negotiate successfully within our rapidly-changing world.
At Jarrow, we embrace the tenets of STEAM and see how naturally they fit within a Montessori classroom. Our Upper Elementary, grades 4th-6th, have a student-led STEAM committee. They have designed a ‘maker space’ in their classroom and created, with the help of parent volunteers, some amazing projects and lessons to share with their classmates.
Last week the students led an afternoon of hands-on experiments with simple machines. During this activity, the class traveled in groups between six stations, each focusing on one simple machine. At one station, children used a screw in the form of a car jack to lift a car and change a tire. At the pulley station, they were able to compare lifting a 70-pound weight with no mechanical advantage, and then with a mechanical advantage of seven using seven ropes on a pulley system. Children felt the difference in lifting weights up with no ramp, or inclined plane, and the advantages that three different ramps offered in varying lengths. A lever station offered children an opportunity to feel the different mechanical advantages of where the fulcrum is placed on a lever. At the wheel and axle station, children felt the major advantage in transporting a 70-pound weight with a dolly over that of a sled. Finally, the children used various wedges to split pieces of wood, after unsuccessfully trying to break them apart using only their hands. After experiencing all these different stations, we all used a pulley system to lift…a teacher!