Ally Muir

October 27, 2019

Principles of STEAM

Jaclyn Gerstein

Designing and Developing a STE(A)M Lesson

  1. Course: Sustainable Agriculture
  2. Age Range: 9-12, mixed-grade class of ~10 students
  3. Experience: I designed and facilitated this class Spring 2019; I hope to re-design and re-teach the class this Spring semester.
  4. Course Description: During the first phase of Sustainable Agriculture, students not only investigate the science of maple sugaring, but also design and construct their own sugaring system at a local farm. Students learn about the ecology, biology and chemistry of trees, from identification, structure and function to bacterial succession and the maillard reaction. We research the various types of sugaring systems to inform our own design and procedure to tap trees. Each week, we travel to The Ecology School’s farm to observe, plan and engineer our sugaring operation. First, students are tasked to use CAD (tinkercad or onshape) to design and 3D print a simple tag for each of the trees. Next, they embark on inquiry-based experimental design to determine the most effective way to tap trees. Each student creates a testable question, such as: “how does tapping the North vs South side of a tree impact sap flow?” to “how does tapping 1” vs 1.5” depth impact sap flow?” to “how does white vs black-colored spile impact flow rate?” To test their questions, students must design and 3D print spiles to tap their trees with. Students collaborate to build the sugaring system, using provided materials and tools. Once the system is in place, we collect and measure sap and record our data and observations. Once we have enough sap, we use an evaporator to finish our syrup. Meanwhile, we investigate the chemistry of sugar degradation and caramelization to understand how clear sap becomes delicious amber syrup.  To demonstrate and communicate their learnings to an authentic audience, students then created a “How To” manual for The Ecology School to reference in future years when they expand upon this operation. In the manual, students described the ecology and chemistry of sugaring, analyzed their data and made recommendations.

  1. Introductory Lesson Plan
  1. Design & 3D Print Tree Tags
  1. Design & 3D Print Spiles
  1. Create a Guidebook: Synthesis & Reflection
  1. Time for Tinkering & Exploration?

  1. STEAM
  1. Vision for Student learning
  1. Standards Addressed
  1. Student Voice
  1. Prerequisite Knowledge and Skills
  1. Needed Materials