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Toys as Tools: Bostian Elementary Students Learn from Summer STREAM Program

CHINA GROVE — If you would have walked into Bostian Elementary School’s Media Center on Tuesday morning, you would see students scattered everywhere at different learning stations, each one finding out something different and new.

These students at Bostian Elementary were taking part in the first Summer STREAM event of this year. Summer STREAM is a program for all students of Bostian Elementary to interact with one another during the summer, and also to help them maintain their ability to learn while school is out of session.

“STREAM stands for Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Math. It used to be STEM, but then Reading and Art were added because those are important as well.” said Jennifer Roberson, Bostian Elementary’s Media Coordinator.

Roberson also said that Summer STREAM assists the students with their success in Battle of the Books, encouraging them at events to read more and to check out books from the school library. Another added benefit of Summer STREAM is that parents are able to attend, allowing them to see in action what their kids have learned throughout the school year. 

Tuesday’s event was the first Summer STREAM of 2017, but Bostian Elementary is planning on having two more Summer STREAM events on July 11, and Aug. 18.

To kick off the event that morning, Roberson read a book to a group of captivated students sitting on the floor around her, allowing the students to focus on the reading aspect of STREAM. The book Roberson was reading was about America, which was the theme of Tuesday morning’s Summer STREAM event.

Amanda Chavis, Bostian Elementary’s instructional technology facilitator, explained how during the summer and throughout the school year, STREAM is always seeking to combine all of the elements from the different subjects that students are learning about.

Chavis said that this past year the younger students at Bostian Elementary used a caterpillar robot, called a Code-a-pillar, as a tool to help them learn about technology, reading, and navigation. She explained that the kids learned how to program the Code-a-pillar to navigate on a map, because in class they were learning how to read a map to find their home. They had also read, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” that year, establishing a rounded theme for their learning process with the Code-a-pillar.

“It all worked really well together.” said Chavis.

One fun experiment that the students did on Tuesday involved mints and water. The kids would pour a small amount of water on a plastic plate and place a red and white mint in the water. The colors from the mint would start to seep out into the water, creating a design on the plate that looked like a firework.

Although the mint experiment was pretty interesting to the students, the most popular activity at Summer STREAM was playing with Legos. Multiple students stood around a table that held large bins of Legos, each of them creating something that related to the patriotic theme of the day.

“I’m making an American Flag and a Statue of Liberty. Look!” Said Audrey Faggart, holding up her Lego creations for Chavis and Robertson to see.

“The kids love the Legos. We always have other stuff to play with, but they always go back to the Legos.” said Roberson, a smile on her face.

Roberson also explained that students use Legos to learn about structures and engineering at STREAM by creating strong foundations and forming building models with them.

Before the morning was over, Chavis took photos of the smiling students with their Lego creations and their “firework” experiments.

Roberson explained that one of her favorite parts of Summer STREAM is watching the kids learn new skills through trial and error. She said that it is inspiring to see the kids display resilience through their projects.

“We want to give them a fun learning experience this summer.” said Roberson.

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