A MIXTURE OF STEM AND THEOLOGY

Organizer: prof. Codreanu Estera

Because the theme for this year is STEM FOR ALL, I thought: if it is for ALL, let’s mix it everywhere. So, I made an experiment: I brought together STEM and THEOLOGY. It may seem weird for some, but I think these two areas can meet in beautiful activities.

To believe in God we need faith. Sometimes, in science too we need faith in order to create or to discover new things. Every man of science sees far beyond the others. In his imagination impossible things are possible and in his work, impossible ideas become reality. Science, imagination, creativity and faith work together in solving problems and bringing new things in creation.

So I had this brilliant idea to start with a biblical story and around it to do STEM/STEAM activities: experiments, puzzles, mazes, math activities, art activities, scientific activities, etc. The activity was a project-like activity in the span of more weeks, between February until the end of April. It took place at the Tandarica Kindergarten from Suceava, involving preschoolers, aged 5-6 years, also their parents and a few teachers. Here are just a few topics that we approached. At the end of each one I will put some links of the resources that I used and inspired me.

The story of creation

Starting from the story of creation, the children studied topics like earth, stars, Sun, Moon, Solar System, planets, comets, asteroids, the formation of day and night, etc. They listened and watched episodes with Paxi from ESA, Power Point presentations, educational movies with scientific explanations. Then, they made all kinds of representations of all these by drawing them, painting, clay modelling, crafts, practical works, experiments, mazes, math exercises, etc. https://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2009/05/lunar-landing.html, https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/fizzing-moon-rocks-activity/, https://www.esa.int/kids/en/Multimedia/Paxi_animations/Romanian/Sistemul_Solar

The story of Noah

From the story of Noah, with the flood and the rainbow, we took for study the water, its properties, its benefits and its dangers. The children learnt about the water cycle in nature, about the formation of the rainbow, about the white light, the prism, the reverse rainbow (Newton’s Disc), refraction, dispersion and reflection. The kids listened and watched educational clips, PowerPoint presentations, scientific explanations and they made experiments. https://www.esa.int/kids/en/Multimedia/Paxi_animations/Romanian/Circuitul_apei_in_natura, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yVbdcTxp1E&ab_channel=PitiClic, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIdE-pqYqbs&ab_channel=KITCHENSCIENCELAB, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCPPLhPTAIk&t=110s&ab_channel=PeekabooKidz

The story of Nicodemus

One day Nicodemus comes to Jesus to find out more about God. Then Jesus explains him that God is Spirit and assembles Him with the wind. We cannot see God, but we feel Him, we see His work and His answers to our prayers. In the same way, we cannot see the air or the wind, but we see its effects, we feel it. So, we (me and my preschool students) decide to learn more about air and wind.

First, the children tried to “see” the wind or the air. So, they could “see” it when they blew a feather or a balloon, when they turn the sheets of the book with the help of a fan, when they span a pinwheel. They “saw” the wind in the moving branches of the trees around them or in the fly of their kite. Running with the kite was a great opportunity to learn a little about aerodynamics. They learnt about the four forces of flight: Lift, Weight, Drag, and Thrust and the gravitational attraction. Searching the right direction of the air motion was a challenge for them. The little investigators also learned about the power of the wind, it benefits, like windfarms that help us to have nonpolluting and sustainable energy, but also the risks, like the windstorms/tornados. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXP1GkN8TV4&t=11s&ab_channel=JanguKids, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vkjz44-aa14&ab_channel=DigiNurture

The Lord’s Supper story

In this story, Jesus is taking the last supper together with his disciples. He teaches them to celebrate this moment over the years, drinking wine and eating bread. This two are the symbols of his blood and body, in order to remember his death and sufferings.

So, we found in this an opportunity to study the human blood, a very interesting activity. First, they watched a scientific explanation about the composition of the blood and the importance of each component. They retained in their mind four components. Plasma helps the blood move through veins and arteries. Red blood cells carry oxygen. White blood cells fight germs, bacteria, and viruses. Platelets help heal cuts. We reconstructed the red and white cells in a nice sensory activity that the children enjoyed very much. In a large plastic container we put water, red water beads and white ping-pong balls. While they explored the “blood”, playing with it, they talked about its parts.

We didn’t talk only about the blood, but also about the hole human body, its parts, external and internal organs. They watched scientific presentations, studied anatomy books and encyclopedia and they made practical representations of different aspects that they learnt.

Regarding the wine and the bread, we reached notions of chemistry literacy like good microbes, single celled organisms, fungus, yeast, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, fermentation, alcohol and Carbon Dioxide, gluten, etc. We also watched scientific presentations and explanations from the internet. We made bread and an experiment with a balloon to demonstrate how yeast works and what happens along the process.  https://www.icanteachmychild.com/what-is-blood-made-of/, https://youtu.be/weLTJXViTQ0, https://youtu.be/qrE6Y0Se8bw

The Easter story

The Easter story is not about the eggs of course. It is about Lord Jesus’ resurrection. The children watched and listened educational movies and PowerPoint presentations in order to establish the true meaning of the Easter. But after that, we found in the custom of painting eggs a great opportunity to try some experiments with eggs.

Along these experiments the kids could tell the difference between a boiled egg and a fresh one just by spinning them. They observed that the egg is not floating in the water, but they found out that they can make an egg float, by adding salt in the glass. Introducing an egg in a bottle was another fantastic challenge for them. Finally, they made a jumping ball from an egg by keeping the egg in vinegar for two days in order to “melt” the eggshell. During this experiment, they observed how the egg became bigger and translucent so that they could see the egg yolk inside. They also could feel the egg that became like a rubber ball and played with it, because it could jump. https://youtu.be/errqz-UeSA8, https://youtu.be/mkVMxxGloVE

The preschoolers were very enthusiastic about these themes and especially the experiments. I usually let them to do the activities by themselves: I tell them what to do, but I let them to work and they are very interested and curious to discover by themselves what is happening. They have to say first their opinion, what they think is going to happen, then I let them to experiment and to draw the conclusions. 

I involved not only the preschoolers, but also their parents. They too were very pleased and excited about the activities. When we were doing these activities at the kindergarten, the children who couldn’t come, asked to send them indications and resources to do them at their homes. Also, during the stem discovery week, in Romania the children had vacation and they were at home. But they were fully involved and I had the total approve and support from their parents. Actually, it was really exciting to do stem activities at their homes despite the vacation.

Due to all these activities, children used and improved their skills in critical thinking and problem solving, they collaborated with each other, they used and developed their creativity. Also, the themes approached were relevant for them, the activities started from real life topics and situations. They ended with answers for their questions, with “wows” and even more curiosity.

Finally, you can find more pictures and videos here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1624845234575087

CAUSE IF IT IS STEM FOR ALL, IT IS SURELY STEM FOR US TOO   

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