Giant Stride

It’s all that exists between you and a new experience.

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It’s a Mystery!

‘I already love the 4th grade”  whispered one boy to a classmate. “They let us do stuff.”

Roanoke County Schools opened for business last Tuesday and on Wednesday,  4th graders became very involved in their learning. IMG_2186 A STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) project was the impetus of his comment.

Fourth grade students in this Green Valley Elementary classroom used STEM to learn about the five regions of Virginia. Each group was assigned a region and had to create a mystery box containing clues that would help their classmates guess the regions.

The box could contain only one word and had to contain a minimum of 10 items that represented the region’s products, industries, land forms, water features, animals, renewable and non-renewable resources. At least four of the items had to be 3-dimensional.

Each team received a set of materials for artifact creation. Buttons, cotton balls, play dough, pipe cleaners, colored paper, yarn, straws and cotton swabs were in limited supply and if they ran out they had to come up with another way to create.

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While learning about the regions of Virginia, students practiced essential 21st Century skills – communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. Journal reflections at the end of each class period helped students identify what they’d learned that day and what they’d need to find out in the next class session. It was a pretty tall order on the second and third day of 4th grade but the Green Valley students stepped right.

Once  the boxes were complete, students generated QR codes revealing the name of their region. Next week, classmates will make predictions based on the clues inside the box and use the QR code to reveal the mystery.

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The project wrapped up today with students already asking about the next STEM activity.  It appears that the first week of school at Green Valley pretty much rocked!

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