The last week of school was science week with robots and rockets for some elementary students.
According to Danny Guzman, science teacher at Robert Fulton School in North Bergen, New Jersey, instead of another big test in the fourth marking period, a project based assessment was preferable. “Because at this point in the year they’re tested out. And the temperatures are not conducive to sitting in a room and taking a two-hour test.”The younger children worked on class projects that were assigned by teachers, and the older students picked individual projects and carried out experiments on their own. In the hallways, the students showed off their projects with great excitement and received their grades for creativity and imagination.
Stephanie Stern teaches computer education at Franklin School. “A few years ago I won a fellowship with NASA Endeavor,” she said, referring to the science teaching certificate project. “And for graduation I had to build a district-wide unit.”A unit is basically a program of study for students containing all four educational STEM fields: science technology, engineering, and math. Al Orlando, science supervisor for the district, charged Stern with creating a unit for two grades, and she instituted programs for the third and fourth grades based on space milestones and the lunar rover.
From there it grew.
“Based on the outcome of the project and the steps they take, they’re assessed, and then a grade is produced in each of the disciplines: English, math, social studies, science,” said Stern. “It’s completely cross-curricular.”
This year the fifth graders at Franklin School had a special treat: they got to work with actual robots.