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Exciting Developments in our STEM Curriculum

Blog Type:  STEM Lower School
Date Posted:  Wednesday, October 9, 2019

At the Lower School, students have a dedicated Science class once a week with a dedicated STEM teacher. In 1st and 2nd grade, it’s 30 minutes a week, and it goes up to one hour a week in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.

Students benefit this year from a revised Science curriculum that is unique to EB as it combines elements of both the American and French curriculum. EB’s science program teaches topics borrowed from the French program, including: 

  • Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions and Structure and Properties of Matter and Energy;
  • the Earth's system: processes that shape the Earth
  • Development of Organisms
  • Engineering Design and Robotics

Deepening concepts in the upper grades

The way these topics are taught are from the very hands-on methodology from the Next Generation Science Standards that are: 

  1. asking questions and defining problems, 
  2. developing and using models, 
  3. planning and carrying out investigations, 
  4. analyzing and interpreting data, 
  5. using mathematics and computational thinking, 
  6. constructing explanations and designing solutions, 
  7. engaging in argument from evidence,
  8. obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.

This revised curriculum allows children to scaffold their knowledge and deepen a subject from one year to the next. The curriculum is also adapted to the students’ cognitive development. For instance, in electricity, first graders will learn to build a switch ; in 2nd grade, they’ll explore conductors and electrical isolation ; 3rd graders will dive into what electrons are ; 4th graders will build a simple project with a circuit such as a holiday card, or a robot ; and finally 5th graders will learn where energy and electricity come from.

First grade students learning to code with a Bee-Bot.

Specialist STEM Teacher Isabelle LeBlanc splits her time between EB and Cal, where she teaches Biochemistry to junior and senior undergraduates. While at EB, she works with 1st to 5th graders, either in small groups or side-by-side with their teacher in a dedicated space for STEM activities in what used to be known as the Art Room. Thanks to funds raised through the Fund for the Future, this space has been converted into a specialized classroom with new tools and materials that are conducive to experimentation and making. 

Isabelle also oversees the teaching of the robotics curriculum in that space. Students learn robotics as early as 1st grade with the very hands-on Bee-Bots. Starting in 2nd grade, a more sophisticated robot, Dash, is introduced. Programming this robot requires an iPad and as such, there is no physical contact between the child and the robot, unlike with Bee-Bot. In 4th grade, OZOBOT make coding even more complex but still a lot of fun as you can see in this video: