For the fifth 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). During the week of February 4, girls worked in groups to design and build a wooden planter for a Milkweed plant, the sole food source of the Monarch caterpillar.
This year during STEAM Week, the 4th and 5th grade researched the life and migration cycles of the Monarch Butterfly. Monarchs migrate every year from habitats all across Southern Canada and the United States to a very small area of forests in Central Mexico. The girls also learned about factors that have caused a dramatic decline in Monarch populations over the past 20 years and researched ways to help the Monarch. After completing their research and determining that the Milkweed plant is the Monarch caterpillar’s primary food source, the girls worked in groups to design and build a wooden planter large enough to hold a Milkweed plant. This spring, the girls will fill the planters and place them around the Lower School. They will then monitor the plants for eggs and caterpillars and record the data. A pollinator garden will also be added to the GFS campus later this spring.
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, programming plants to respond to voice commands and designing and programming musical instruments.