Get Adobe Flash player
COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 1 STEM Education Sonya decided to build an arena for her toy horses. Her parents made blocks for her by covering half- pint-, pint-, and quart-size dairy containers with contact paper. Sonya carefully stacked four half-pint containers to make a column. Next to this stack of blocks, she built another column by matching new blocks to the four blocks in her original tower. Sonya slid her second stack of blocks about a foot away from the first stack. By repeating this process, Sonya soon had four corner towers for her arena. Next, Sonya placed a quart-size block on the floor between two of the towers to make a fence. She noticed a gap between the towers and her fence, so she carefully pushed the towers closer together until they touched the fence block. Sonya repeated this process for two additional sides of her arena but used a pint-size block on the fourth side to allow space for an entrance. Delightedly, she moved her horses through this opening into the arena. Sonya now prepared to add a roof. running into her father’s office, she found a clipboard and brought it back to her building area. Sonya attempted to lay the clipboard across the columns, but it fell into the arena. Frustrated, she looked around her room and noticed a doll blanket, which she draped over the columns of her building. The blanket was large enough to make a roof, but it sagged in the middle. Dissatisfied with the result, Sonya continued to look around her room. In the closet, she found a square box lid from a game. Much to her delight, the box lid fit almost perfectly across her columns. “Daddy,” Sonya called. “Come see what I made.” Sonya and her father discussed the arena. “I want to e-mail a picture to Grandma,” Sonya exclaimed. “She’ll like my arena.” Sonya’s father handed her his smartphone, and she took a picture of her building. He helped her text a message, and together they sent it, along with the photo, to Grandma. • • • T his vignette about Sonya encompasses the four disciplines of STEM education: sci- ence, technology, engineering, and math- ematics. It also illustrates how children’s play can provide fertile ground for learning in each of the STEM disciplines. Through her block build- ing, Sonya experimented with balance, symme- try, and the properties and effects of materials. These are all important concepts in science. In mathematics, she used one-to-one correspon- dence to produce towers of the same height, and she explored measurement through her fence and roofing dilemmas. The entire play expe- rience related to engineering, where concepts of science and mathematics must be applied to real-world problems. Finally, Sonya used tech- nology to quickly preserve and communicate the results of her efforts. Teachers, parents, and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 1