It may seem incredible, but the imagination and challenges presented to sixth graders has students excited about STEAM classes.
The words “Bridge Builder” were projected on a screen in Aimee Burrus’ sixth grade class at Los Osos Middle School, with a countdown timer close by.
Students outside were sitting in small clusters with their laptops. But inside the classroom, groups of children tried to build a paper bridge as Burrus walked from table to table.
A group four girls—Brianna, Mandy, Dylan, and Maia—named themselves the “Black Panthers”. They were trying to build a bridge that would support the most weight. Their strategy was to fold sheets of paper into rectangular boxes and stack them in an arch.
“She lets us go on our own and challenges us to build a bridge without tape,” Brianna said.
“What you don’t want to forget is think creatively,” Burrus told the class. “Think outside of the box.”
Another group of four boys in the far corner—Bryan, Richie, Jett, and Jesse—dubbed their team “Operation Chaotic Cheesecake.”
They sheepishly placed a weight on the bridge, then cheered when it held up. “Nailed it!” a student yelled from another table across the room.
The first part of the assignment had the students following a blueprint, but many seemed more excited to try out their own ideas.
“I like it better, what we’re doing right now,” Bryan said.
Burrus has been teaching since 2001, but is currently in the first year of teaching under the new direction of the school’s recently funded Science, Technology, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) program.
“It’s exceeded my expectation,” she said.
The STEAM program has received a funding allocation from the San Luis Coastal Unified School District of $160,000 for the first year, followed by $125,000 each for years two and three.