For the fourth year in a row, GFS suspended regular classes for 4th and 5th Grade for one week for girls to be immersed in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). From January 29 to February 2, girls worked in groups to create and program musical instruments to play an original song.
Collaborating in groups of three, each girl was assigned the role of Main Composer, Main Engineer or Main Programmer and used Scratch, Makey Makey and PicoBoard to design and program their instruments. In addition to their classroom teachers, students worked with the Lower School digital learning specialist and science and music teachers to learn about crafting and designing their instruments and composing music. The students also worked with the Upper School science teacher and senior engineering students to learn how to program their instruments and create a prototype. Throughout the week, the students tested and made changes to their instruments, preparing them to be ready to present to parents on Friday.
STEAM week is part of the Lower School's Imagineering program; a Garrison Forest signature program in which the school's full time Imagineering expert Chris Shriver works with students in Preschool through 5th Grade in pre-engineering labs to teach the problem solving and collaborative skills that students need to excel in science, technology, engineering, art/design and math. The program seeks to address gender inequities in STEAM-based careers by preparing even the youngest Garrison Forest girls with hands-on experience in those fields. STEAM week is the largest Imagineering project, and each year, teams of 4th and 5th grade girls work together to tackle a specific problem or project. In years past, girls have been tasked with building an animal habitat that could be placed around campus, creating interactive stuffed monsters and programming plants to respond to voice commands.
"I'm really impressed by what the teams were able to accomplish during the week," said Ms. Shriver. "It's always nice when the final designs are successful, but the week is about much more than that. The true value is found in the collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking that takes place regardless of the final outcome. To me, this is what defines a successful STEAM Week."