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STEM Kickoff

CREATE2THINK is a STEM curriculum created by EES Innovation that Hanover Community School Corporation adopted in 2023 as part of Hanover’s strategic plan. The plan states that one of our goals is to have district-wide STEM certification in grades K-2 along with PBL training for all K-2 teachers. The teacher process, or CREATE, is broken down into the following: Capture their interest, Release control to explore, Engage through inquiry, Act on student responses, Targeted feedback through assessment, and Empower critical thinkers through redesign. The student process, or THINK, is broken down into the following: Tackle the problem, Hunt for information, Interpret & synthesize others’ views, Navigate new ideas, and Keep refining & sharing. Hanover uses this program because it is both comprehensive and inclusive. 

Mrs. Alicia Darnstaedt is the Project Based Learning/STEM Coordinator for Hanover Community School Corporation, where she splits her time between Jane Ball Elementary School and Lincoln Elementary School. She took on this role at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year. All Hanover teachers who teach kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade are PBL-certified. Our STEM leaders, who are CREATE2THINK certified, were the first to roll out the program. This included several teachers from both Jane Ball and Lincoln. The remaining teachers in the distrct will be rolling our their units soon. Beginning in the 2nd quarter of the 2023-2024 school year, Mrs. Darnstaedt was ready to get the STEM program at Hanover rolling. 

“The Great Zipline Escape” was tackled by our kindergarten teams at both Lincoln and Jane Ball. Students got to explore the adventures of zip lining and how they work. They dove into learning about the necessary features of a zip line, understanding the challenges created by friction, and figuring out the factors that increase a zip line’s speed. Our students collaborated in teams to design and build the fastest zip line to help Peter Rabbit and his friends outsmart a sly fox. Students were presented with various materials including toilet paper rolls, binder clips, tape, straws, pipe cleaners, and more to build a prototype “trolley” to go on the zip line. Students had to test their prototypes and observe their trolley’s performance. From there, the students tested and evaluated their prototypes to create a faster version of their initial design. The final showdown included timing, racing, and cheering all around for everyone’s great work on this project. Our kindergarteners became official design engineers with this project.

Our 1st graders at Jane Ball took on the “Whale-come to the Southern Sea” challenge. Students researched orca whales and explored the sea life within the Southern Ocean’s frigid waters. Their research provided them with information like physical features, diet, predators, and more. After partnering up, our talented 1st graders created handmade trioramas or presentations that displayed their research findings. Students were given various materials like pipe cleaners, feathers, paper, drawing utensils, and more to complete their creations. This challenge allowed our students to study relationships between Earth, plants, animals, and survival in their ecosystems. The students presented their creations to the class which resulted in a lot of “ooh”s and “ahh”s from teachers and fellow classmates. This project allowed our 1st graders to become young ethologists.

The 1st graders at Lincoln got to jump into the “Huff and Puff” challenge. This challenge is inspired by the classic fairy tale, The Three Little Pigs. Students had to design and construct a house that could brace the strength of the Big Bad Wolf’s huffs and puffs. Students used popsicle sticks, straws, pipe cleaners, Play-Doh, blocks, and more to build their strong houses. Students collaborated and researched different architectural structures to determine the best design options. After the first build, they got to test their structures and make any final revisions needed before the final test with the principal, Mr. Zaremba, controlling the “Big Bad Wolf” hairdryer. Students were on the edge of their seats, hoping that the Big Bad Wolf didn’t blow their houses down. Our students became little architects with this project.

The 2nd graders at Jane Ball and Lincoln pursued the “Float Your Boat” challenge. Students got to explore the functions and shapes of various water transportation to build, test, and improve their prototypes of a small boat. The goal was to create a device that could float on water and withstand the greatest weight of pennies or marbles. Students used tin foil, coffee filters, corks, popsicle sticks, and more to craft their boats. Students had to do research and build background knowledge before working with a partner to draw out their design visions. Each partner brought various ideas to the final product, learning from each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Students learned how to make their boats hold more weight by making alterations after repeated testing. The final testing was a nail-biter, as more and more weight was added to the boats, students hoped that their creations held the most pennies or marbles because they TESTED till Failure! This project allowed our 2nd graders to transform into young naval architects.

All of the students received certificates with their career job titles from their STEM activities. Hanover Community School Corporation is thrilled to kick off this incredible STEM program led by Mrs. Darnstaedt. We are excited to incorporate this into all of the classrooms at Hanover. Check out these videos from Lincoln and Jane Ball to see how our first challenges went. So many smiles and laughs resonated in the classrooms as our students achieved their goals. Stay tuned to see more about our growing STEM program, as more teachers will be rolling out their units within the next few months. 

Lincoln STEM Kickoff

Jane Ball STEM Kickoff