STEAM is a guided approach to learning, an inquiry, that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics to guide inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. It is about exploring learning where children follow ideas, find a solution to a problem, think about ideas, research, design, create, test and then improve! It is an approach which blends with our Foundation Characteristics of Effective Learning or CoEL. Children learn through ‘creative and critical thinking’.
As part of our whole school focus, we posed a problem for our children, using the idea of a bridge. The story of the Gingerbread Man is about a ginger bread boy who tries to run away and comes across a river, the problem is “How can he cross the river?”
In the story, the fox tricks him but can we make a bridge to help him get safely across? It is a great way to give purpose to building the bridge. So, we thought about how we could help and the fact that bridges can be all sorts of shapes and sizes.
We made bridges using our bodies, but it was tricky to keep still and we kept collapsing! So we tried working in pairs, slightly better but still not quite right! Next, we tried using spaghetti and marshmallows, great fun but some couldn’t resist eating the marshmallows! And they weren’t strong enough. Then we tried straws, we found different ways to fix them together, we needed lots of help and they kept collapsing!
Finally, we went outside and tried using building blocks. By now we also realised we had to work together to make the bridges. We had tall bridges, short bridges, high bridges, with room for boats to go under and low bridges easier for them to go across.
The children used all three layers of Characteristics for Effective Learning from: playing and exploring, where children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’ to active learning where children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements to finally creating and thinking critically where children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things. They also used a process of: thinking about the problem, creating their ideas, testing, evaluating and improving a cycle of learning through exploring and sharing ideas.
We had great fun and look forward to our next challenge!
Head of Foundation Stage