In 2010, Marcia Laundy, accelerated math curriculum coordinator at the Torah School of Greater Washington (TSGW) in Silver Spring, Maryland, introduced the first school-wide math fair. After nine years of successful math fairs, Chaya Shinensky, a third grade teacher and Endeavor STEM Certificate candidate, partnered with Laundy to expand and produce the first annual TSGW STEAM Fair, held March 7. STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics, is an educational approach that endeavors to guide students in inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.
Throughout the day, students participated in a variety of interactive hands-on STEAM activities, facilitated by the teachers at TSGW. Each student received a STEAM Fair t-shirt and “passport,” which was stamped upon the completion of each activity. Students rotated between activities in various locations throughout the school, with the help of parent chaperones.
Some of the activities included exploring the properties of air, buoyancy, chromatography, viscosity, static electricity, and a variety of engineering challenges. Students were also encouraged to use computational thinking through coding activities, including a board game called Robot Turtles, as well as computer-based block coding programs such as Blockly and Sphero Robotics. By the end of the day, students had the opportunity to explore a variety of STEAM activities that facilitated new discoveries and understanding about the world around them.
The STEAM Fair is part of a TSGW initiative to increase STEAM learning throughout the school. Lisa Solomson, the school’s librarian, recently took on a new role as a STEAM teacher, providing fifth-grade students with weekly hands-on STEAM activities related to their science curriculum. Plans for the 2020 STEAM Fair at TSGW are already underway, as the school looks for new, innovative ways to provide students with recent developments in STEAM education.
Since the Torah School was established in 1994, it has grown from 82 students to almost 380 students from kindergarten through grade six, serving families throughout the Washington metropolitan area. In spite of this remarkable growth, the children continue to learn in an environment where every individual’s needs are met and each student is encouraged to reach his or her maximum potential both in and out of the classroom. The STEAM Fair proved to be a great venue to for carrying out the school’s mission.
By Chaya Shinensky
Chaya Shinensky is a third grade teacher at the Torah School of Greater Washington.