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   

Circles in a Dreamcatcher

“The subject of Mathematics is so serious that should we not pass on an opportunity to make it more interesting” – said famous French philosopher, writer, physicist, and mathematician Blaise Pascal. The best tool to accomplish this is art while the most important resource is the Europeana portal – it stores so many treasures it’s hard to count! My lesson plan focuses on studying circles and their elements, features, and properties. To make the learning process as effective as possible, we use the theory behind chemical and physical processes relating to paint, engineering constructions that relate to the properties of circles, and exciting coding that allows student to create fascinating patterns with circles.

Mathematics and art are connected in different ways. Mathematics itself has been described as an art motivated by beauty. Mathematics can be distinguished in such arts as painting, architecture, sculpture, and so on. The content of this educational scenario focuses on mathematics in the  visual arts.

Often great artists in their works used geometric shapes to enhance thought, to express a philosophical vision of the world, to more clearly convey their thoughts and experiences. Geometric shapes in the composition perform two functions: highlighting the main and combining elements of the image. That is why the resources of Europeana, which show the connection between science and art, are useful, important and necessary.

According to the curriculum, seventh graders begin to learn geometry. Which is difficult for them, because children are not yet very well developed spatial vision. Therefore, when learning complex and fundamental geometric concepts, in particular, such as a circle, it is necessary to give children information about its meaning and importance in everyday use, art, environment. And here the resources of Europeana are best suited. After all, children search in a safe environment, work with primary sources, get acquainted with the world’s artistic heritage, learn.

This learning scenario combines the teaching of mathematics with the fine arts. This activity also takes place in conjunction with the study of artistic culture, based on Europeana resources. This learning scenario is integration between project learning, STEM and distance learning. Students implement mathematical knowledge to learn about cultural heritage, and vice versa, they test mathematical  knowledge based on cultural  heritage.  And all this is happening with the active use of fine arts.  Students search for information in Europeana’s cultural heritage collections and create digital content, drawings based on problems and solutions they have developed using digital cultural heritage materials found in Europeana.

This interdisciplinary lesson aims to:

  • Motivating students to search for information and knowledge about cultural heritage on the Europeana portal
  • Checking the mathematical knowledge of students
  • Development of creativity and innovation of students, flexibility and adaptability and problem-solving skills
  • Development  of  students’  critical  thinking  through  the  creation  of  drawings  for  the  formation  of  their  geometric representations

The aim of this lesson is that students take an active part in solving problems with geometric concepts, outside the traditional way of learning. In addition, the added value is that the proposed tasks are based on cultural heritage materials, as they focus on the links between history, art, fashion and mathematics.

An interdisciplinary approach helped us combine the lesson with STEM and integrate it into our school curriculum.

I planned my learning scenario using distance learning technologies, because Ukraine is currently at war. Therefore, it is not possible to conduct lessons in an educational institution. The lessons included students who came from the occupied territories, as well as students who study in this class and are currently abroad.

Participants were able to use and access the platform Europeana, geogebra, mentimeter, Padlet, as well as learn to create a digital presentation and exhibition. Participants increased their interest, knowledge, creativity and research of works of art and ways of working in Europeana with real works of art and digital instruments. Participants were able to work in a team, use their critical thinking about the past and present and compare information on a particular topic. Participants were able to learn how the project works, what stages need to be passed and what material can be obtained used to create it. Participants were able to add their own ideas and support their opinions, as well as observe how others create and comment on their work. And finally – they were convinced that mathematics is the key to knowledge, the basis of the basics, its study is fascinating, informative and extremely important

I believe that it is worthwhile for children to hold such classes, even at such a difficult time. This allows students to develop, learn, move forward.

My Space Rocket for STEM

Children are curious and they begin to know and perceive the world at an early age. From the moment they are born, they tend to explore the environment by observing. In the “concrete operations” period, children tend to learn information with the help of materials. The information of children that learned through material becomes more pernament and open to discuss so that’s why we designed a rocket from bottle that will work with water to help our students to improve the interest that they have about space in our eTwinning project “STEM in Space”.

Materials that we used to make our rocket:

Plastic bottle, cork stopper, thick cardboard, bicycle pump, water, scissors, glue, relief valve.

How did we do our rocket:

First, we cut a conical cap and glued it as the tip of our plastik bottle and we made support legs from thick cardboard because our bottle was upside down. Then, we placed the relief valve in the cork stopper in such a way that water does not leak into the mouth of the bottle. Moreover, we put about a quarter of the water in the bottle. After that, we pumped air into the bottle with a bicycle pump. The plastic bottle jumped upwards in ten seconds.

To sum up, as we are awere of the importance of using materials during education period and we want to raise the interest of our students in STEM in Space topic, we desinged a rocket that can work with gas pressure. We hope it will be useful for my fellow colleagues and their dear students. I wish you an education life which is full of material learning eduation and of course space interest.

See you in another contents.

You can access the video of this event taken in our school from the link below. https://youtube.com/shorts/H9Jk3BupS7A?feature=share

Mars Project: Hey Mars, wait for us!

Short Description:

This is a multidisciplinary project including STEAM activities about the planet Mars in which students brainstormed and exchanged ideas on how to establish a settled life on it. During the project students did research about this planet on the internet and got help from their chemistry and art teachers. Firstly, they got to know this planet and they learned all the important features of it. After that, they tried to find some solutions about how to reveal water, create weather events in Mars atmosphere like in the world, use the soil for agriculture and build houses and Martian cities. During the activities students conducted an experiment on how to produce oxygen and designed draft plans for building houses and cities with the help of their science and art teachers. https://twinspace.etwinning.net/221452/home

Partners of the project:

Stavroula Prantsoudi (Greece), Albina Abromavaviciene (Lithuania), Cristina Laura Ionaşi and Gabriela Stan (Romania), Derya Şeleci and Tuğba Sağlam (Turkey)

Age range of the students: 13 – 16

Aims of the project:

1. Improving language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary and pronunciation) in English.
2. Arousing curiosity about Mars and the idea of creating life on it.
3. Enabling students to form new ideas about how to provide living conditions on this planet.
4. Establishing friendly relations among students.
5. Increasing creativity and self-confidence of students.

Work Process (1st February – 30th April)

Warm-up activities:

Before the main activities we aimed to inspire students to develop their imaginations and put forward new ideas about project topics. The main warm-up activity was watching the film “Martian”. In addition, there were two optional activities. These activities were playing the online games “TerraGenesis” and “Survival on Mars 3D”, and examining into the website “Access Mars with Google” (https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/).

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Main Activities of the project:

There were six main activities in this project. For this reason, we divided all the students in this project into 6 mixed teams. Each team had a topic and worked on their topics by searching the Net, collaborating with their science and art teachers, and doing experiment and designing survival areas on Mars.

Team 1 : Let’s get to know Mars

With this activity we aimed to make the students learn about this planet detailedly. All the students in the team searched this topic on the net in the light of some guiding questions. What kind of planet is Mars? Why Mars? Why do we want to create a new life on Mars? What have NASA and the other space companies done for Mars so far? After that, they shared their findings and opinions to each other on the project forum pages.

Team 2 – Water on Mars

Water is vital need for all living things. There is no life without water. Therefore, students searched this topic on the net in the light of some guiding questions. Is there really water on Mars? If yes, how can we reveal it? Can humans create water and reproduce it on Mars? If yes, how? What are NASA’s efforts to find water on Mars? After that, they shared their findings and opinions to each other on the project forum pages.

Team 3 – Climate and Atmosphere of Mars

Breathing is essential for our lives. With this activity we aimed to make students learn about climate of Mars and how much each gas is present in the atmosphere of it.

All the students in the team searched this topic on the net in the light of some guiding questions: What are the characteristics of the atmosphere on Mars? How much oxygen is there? Is it possible to increase the oxygen rate? How is the climate on Mars? Is it possible to increase the temperature of Mars? Are atmospheric events happening on Mars? How can it be ensured that it rains regularly on Mars? What are the researches of scientists about the climate and atmosphere of Mars?

After that they shared their findings and opinions to each other on the project forum pages. Also the students conducted an electrolysis experiment on how to produce oxygen with their Chemistry teacher.

Mixed Team 4 – Agriculture on Mars

Food is also one of the basic needs for human life. With this activity we aimed to discover whether we can grow vegetables or fruit on Mars. All the students in the team searched this topic on the net in the light of some guiding questions: What does the soil on Mars consist of? How can the soil on Mars be made fertile for agriculture. Firstly, what plants can we grow on Mars? Can plants grow on with no soil, only water? What are the researches of scientists about its soil?

Mixed Team 5 – Building houses on Mars

What kind of houses must we build? We asked the students to do research on how to build Martian houses and put forward their own ideas in the light of it. Also some students designed a Martian house with the help of their art teacher . The guiding questions: Where can be exactly the most suitable place for life on this planet? What type of houses can be built? Which materials can be used to build a house? What are the researches of scientists about building a house on this planet? After that they shared their findings and opinions to each other on the project forum pages.

Mixed Team 6 – Building a city on Mars

How should we plan Martian cities for a sustainable life? Students did research on this topic by tring to find out answers of some guiding questions. What did NASA or the other space companies do about establishing a city on this planet? What should there be in a Martian city for a sustainable life? Which rules or laws should a city or country to be established have in order to make the life sustainable? In addition, some students drew the plans of Martian cities with the help of their art teachers, gave names to the cities and mentioned about features of them on forum pages.

City plans of Some Students and Their Features

Expected Outcomes of the project

At the end of the project we put all the findings together and created an e-book.

SMART FARMERS

Real- life questions

We unconsciously use many disciplines together to solve a problem in our daily life. While teaching at school, we should not ignore interdisciplinary learning. With this learning scenario, Science and Information Technologies lessons were integrated and used. While sustainability and efficient use of resources are discussed in Science, they will be able to measure how much water a plant needs with coding in Information Technologies.
• Can you determine the water requirement of a plant by coding?
• What can the hygrometer be used for in daily life?
• In which parts of your house do you save water the most?

Course Goals

Biology
• Contributing to the efficient use of resources.
Informatics (ICT)
• Coding with Arduino.
• Measure the moisture of your soil with a hygrometer.

Entrance

The teacher makes the students watch the 25 Lt documentary below.

The following questions are asked to the students in order to determine the readiness level of the students. Brainstorming is done by collecting the answers from the students.

  1. Why do you think water is so important?
  2. Do you think that water resources are used sparingly in our country?
  3. What problems can a decrease in potable water cause?
  4. What can be done to reduce water use in agriculture?
    The teacher said to the students who answered the questions, “Imagine you are an agricultural engineer. Can you design a device that will reduce water use in agriculture and provide efficient irrigation?” The problem situation is given.

Exploring

Students were asked to conduct research on sustainable development and the efficient use of resources anAt this stage of the learning scenario, the students did research on sustainable development and the efficient use of resources. They gathered the information they obtained on the Canva Web 2.0 tool.

Explanation

At this stage, students explain the subject by presenting the data they have collected in the class. The teacher fills in the missing parts of the students.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The world population is increasing rapidly and with it, the need for energy is also increasing. Conscious use of resources in order to meet the energy needs of future generations is called sustainable development. It is aimed to prevent the exhaustion of natural resources without ignoring today’s needs. Sustainable development has two main pillars. The first of these is the efficient use of resources and the other is recycling.

Elaborate

At this stage, students’ science, technology and engineering disciplines are integrated. Students will look for solution suggestions suitable for the problem situation and present their solution suggestions to their teammates. The most appropriate solution proposal will be selected by the teams. Here, our students have chosen to develop an irrigation system with Arduino as a suitable solution to the problem situation. In the system created by the students, watering is done when necessary by measuring the soil moisture with the soil moisture sensor.In the created setup, students used soil moisture sensors. They measured the soil moisture and watered when necessary.

Sketching the design and creating its three-dimensional version

Here, our students draw attention to the efficient use of water. Students first drew their prototypes in 2D and then designed them. For the irrigation system, our students wrote codes and built a circuit on Arduino. Science and technology integration is provided here.

Evaluation

The students presented the prototype they created to their friends in the classroom. At the end of the presentation, the teacher evaluated the product and process of the students with the rubric he prepared. The irrigation system created by our students was presented at the TÜBİTAK 4006 Science Fair.

ÖĞRETMEN DEĞERLENDİRME FORMU
 NEED TO BE IMPROVEDGOODVERY GOOD
Identifying and analyzing the problem   
Finding possible solutions and choosing the best   
Sketch or simulated form of the design product   
Presenting the product   
Group work and collaboration   
Evaluate the product and think better   
Teacher Rubric