Our second STEM-PBL Summer Institute began with a flourish! Kim Ward, Gates-Chili Superintendent of Schools gave the opening address – reminding us of our purpose as educators and inspiring our work for the week. Next, we were treated to a few hands-on design challenges by Sodus STEM Coordinator, Mike Consadine, as well as an overview of project-based learning.
Two alumni from the 2014 Summer Institute shared their successes with this years’ class. Patti Saucke from Churchville-Chili Middle School created a project around growing food. 5th and 8th graders collaborated to build hydroponic gardens, a living wall and vegetable gardens. Students surveyed their peers to find out what food they would like to see in a salad bar, and got community resources involved, including Wegmans, GroMoore Farms and others. The kids wrote and got grants, and they blossomed their project to energize and involve the entire district. Interestingly, she assigned students to find how these exciting ideas align with NYS standards, and they did a great job of it – finding connections all over the place!
The other alumni speaker was Caitlin Ullock, from Pittsford-Mendon High School, shared her project on Lake Ontario.
Living Environment students covered every environmental issue in the curriculum with a depth and interest level she hadn’t seen before, all in the context of Lake Ontario. They interviewed scientists and engineers, created videos, Powerpoints, posters and news articles and basically became experts in an environmental issue, helping to teach their peers so that by the end of the unit, every student was familiar with all of the issues. A great start to a great week!