STEAM time at Ocean Avenue

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First-graders in Mrs. Sharon Stummer’s class at Ocean Avenue have the opportunity to use their imaginations first thing in the morning during the class’ newly-instated STEAM Time. Three days a week, students engage in hands-on activities as though the creative possibilities are endless.

Once students are settled in for the day, each group is permitted to select one material to experiment with. Materials include dominos, Legos, Play-Dough, Velcro-laden popsicle sticks for bridge building, and more. Some dream big, resolving to build the longest popsicle stick bridge in existence, while others let their imagination take over, building and sculpting things like a swimming pool for tiny Lego-people or a family of deer grazing in a field.

“It feels like it’s stretching out my brain,” said Julia, a student in Mrs. Stummer’s class, as she put the finishing touches on a Play-Dough bird’s nest.

Starting with creativity first thing in the morning helps students be less afraid to take risks throughout the rest of the school day with challenges like spelling, math problems, or writing a story.

“The students like the fact that there’s no wrong answers in being creative,” said Mrs. Stummer, “and without even realizing it, they’re growing in the areas of observation and empathy. When sharing their projects with one another, classmates will exclaim ‘I can see how you did that!’ or “I couldn’t see what it was until you explained it, but now I understand.’”