Wanna stop a train in its tracks? Build a house that uses solar energy? A solution to the traffic problem? Roads that produce energy? A safer trampoline? An automated sprinkler system?
ACS’s Grade 8 students had solutions to all these problems, and many others. Basing their proposals on the knowledge they acquired while studying about electricity and electric circuits, students produced models of their conceptions that were showcased in the annual Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) fair on January 14, 2016, at the lower school auditorium.
It was a case of imagination and necessity shaking hands with science.
Science teachers Marcelle Kairouz and Simon Barakat have been organizing the fair every year in order to teach students scientific concepts through hands-on experiments and collected and analyzed data that would lead them to their own conclusions.
Students were required to design and build a project to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the topic and relate what they learned to real life situations. About 29 student teams from five Grade 8 sections spent three weeks working collaboratively and meticulously as engineers to integrate science, technology, engineering, arts, and math in their design and construction process and come out with solutions to real life challenges. For the first time, “Art” or the look of the project was included in the evaluations, which also included assessing technical skills and scientific knowledge, collaboration and teamwork, design and creativity, and presentation skills. Each member of the group had to present separately and was evaluated individually.
The students worked hard on planning, designing, constructing and connecting circuits, as well as measuring and calculating the current and voltage of various loads in different connections using multi-meters. To add to the challenge, students were limited to spending a maximum of $20 on their projects, and they had to complete the entire project during class time.
“This activity allows students to take pride in their projects while providing opportunities for other students to learn from them,” said Kairouz. “It’s also a chance for students to discover their talents and improve their communication and presentation skills.”
The entire ACS community was invited to attend the fair, which meant that students, parents, and staff, all, were welcome. “When the Grade 8 students would explain their projects to the younger students, they felt proud to be able to teach the smaller kids something.”
Kairouz added: “We invited professors from AUB (American University of Beirut) and LAU (Lebanese-American University) and they were impressed by the projects and the level of sophisticated thought that the children demonstrated.”
Simon added that the STEAM projects challenge students and motivate them to connect ideas while applying concepts. It gives students the opportunity to learn many skills that cannot be covered in the traditional classroom setting.