The Students Teaching Students STEM Pilot Program is a new model that helps sixth-grade students teach their second-grade peers to complete a series of robotics-related challenges. The STEM fair happened during the day so as many students as possible could participate, and it took the pressure off of teachers to create activities for the day.
The challenges were called Code & Go Mouse, Tetris, Magnets, LittleBits Code Kit, Hot Wheels, Keva Contraptions, Code & Go Animal Critters, K’Nex, Snap Circuits, and Marble Run.
“I did not think my second graders would be able to solve the STEM challenges at the stations when I first saw them,” Amber Mitchell, a second-grade teacher at Trailside Elementary School, said in a press release. “But I was wrong. The sixth graders had been trained to pose inquiry-based learning questions and to give hints, and the second graders were just so bright. The strongest, most powerful experience for me was watching the second graders work together to solve the challenges.
To prepare to teach the second-grade students, the sixth-grade students attended a three-hour training demonstration where they learned to teach by asking thoughtful questions and giving hints.
“You can see how their thinking changes when I take them through this process,” Sean Bowman, the sixth-grade teacher in charge of testing the pilot program, said in a press release. “It was slow at first, but they learned quickly and then it picked up speed. It has given my sixth graders a sense of confidence and taught them how to get outside of themselves.”
Hagan Westerghard, a sixth-grade student in charge of the Hot Wheels STEM station, found he had to adapt his teaching technique for each different child.
“All of the students are so different, so you must approach them in different ways. They have different energy levels, and they think differently,” he said in a press release.
According to Claire Webber, a UVU student who created the course curriculum, while the sixth graders hone their leadership and teaching skills, the second graders are able to learn about STEM and cultivate creative problem-solving skills.
“The second graders are so creative and came up with ideas that we didn’t consider,” she said in a press release.
Because of a $30,000 grant from the Utah STEM Action Center and a $10,000 grant from Lucid for Education, these STEM Fair kits will be available for elementary schools to check out through UVU’s Creative Learning Studio. These kits will come with the materials for ten stations. To request a free copy of the curriculum, or to learn how to build a kit at home visit https://www.uvu.edu/education/creative-learning/.
The program was a collaboration between Utah Valley University, the Utah STEM Action Center and the Alpine School District.
After enough work and study, as the saying goes, the student becomes the teacher and that was the case at Trailside Elementary School on Wednesday.