STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

Our STEM classroom is abuzz with energy as students dive into the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As STEM specialist Anna Johnson puts it, "STEM provides opportunities for learners to ‘think with their hands’ while problem-solving. It is an opportunity for learners to have direct experiences and engage in real-world problems."

Walk into the STEM room during class time or Maker Recess and you might discover kindergarteners and pre-kindergarteners building ramps to experiment with force and motion, first graders testing whether their handmade boats float, second graders investigating how materials respond to light, or third graders designing objects that use electricity. You might catch our fourth graders building a creative and joyfully chaotic chain reaction that takes up the entire room, or our fifth graders building and programming inventive robots.

Scientists at Work


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) equips curious adventurers with tools to explore the world around them. As students progress from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, they return to and deepen scientific skills across disciplines.

Through exploration and experimentation in the classroom and outdoors, students develop a sense of awe, wonder, and care for the natural world. Students in every grade conduct field-based science investigations focusing on topics such as stormwater, organisms, weather, and daylight. Such hands-on projects deepen students’ understanding and sharpen their scientific skills in observing, investigating, analyzing data, and communicating results. 

Students engage with the engineering design cycle at every age—asking questions, imagining solutions, planning with materials, building, testing, and improving designs. Students apply a growth mindset as they identify design flaws and work to redesign solutions. Students build flexible thinking as they observe a range of solutions from other peers. Over the years, students continue to build habits of collaboration, persistence, flexibility, and resourcefulness as they invent controllers, engineer bridges, program robots, build structures, and much more.


Fifth graders investigate the impact of human activity on the environment through an environmental mystery. Students make a claim using evidence from pH tests, sediment tests, phosphate tests, and population charts to determine who or what is responsible for the environmental disaster. These topics are further explored during a three-night field trip to NatureBridge in Olympic National Park. In fifth grade, students build on their block-based coding skills as they figure out the basics of physical computing through micro:bits and hummingbird robots. Students learn to attach and program LED lights, motors, and sensors to create unique inventions.   

Fourth graders expand their skills in planning and conducting investigations as they design their own experiment using Wisconsin Fast plants. Students document the effects of changing a variable as they collect extensive data sets, graph their data, and write a final report to communicate their results. Students deepen these scientific investigation skills as they build and program a Lego robot that solves a problem in our community as well as through an investigation around community stormwater.

In third grade, students study electricity as they figure out how to add switches, motors, and other components to their circuit design. They apply their knowledge of circuits as they use Makey Makey circuit boards to invent a physical controller for a computer game. Students persevere through technical problems as they identify ways to improve their design for the best user experience. Students also develop and apply their skills in observing, describing, and recording through an in-depth unit on rocks and minerals.

Second graders plan and conduct investigations to identify how different materials respond to light. Students build their understanding that different kinds of matter exist and have different properties that are suited to different purposes. After spending time in the schoolyard investigating, recording, and analyzing data about organisms found there, students construct arguments with evidence to support claims about the relationships between environments and organisms. Students also work in teams to practice skills of communication and collaboration as they learn to use block-based programming with Dash robots.

First grade scientists deepen their understanding of seasonal change in the school yard by observing outdoors, asking questions, documenting changes in daylight, and exploring shadows to understand the changing positions of the sun, earth, and moon. Students figure out why seasonal change happens and why seasons matter. They build their skills of observing, questioning, and communicating through open-ended engineering design challenges that require them to work collaboratively to investigate a problem and identify solutions. Students apply the engineering design process as they build, test, and re-design vehicles, buildings, bridges, and boats.

Kindergarteners investigate force and motion through the use of inclined planes, wind tubes, and magnets. Students work through open-ended engineering design challenges that require them to work collaboratively to investigate a problem and identify solutions. Students design vehicles that can roll down slopes, bridges that can hold weights, and instruments that make different sounds. Students deepen their skills in observing, questioning, and communicating by going out into the school garden to explore and document seasonal change in the schoolyard as they notice and record weather data.

In an interactive, supportive environment, pre-k students are encouraged to explore science, technology, engineering, and math using all of their senses through direct manipulation and materials including wooden ramps, wind tubes, natural materials, instruments, and light.

The Latest...

Monthly grade-level updates from our STEM Classroom and STEM Specialist Anna Johnson.

  • 4th Grade
STEM News in March: Fourth Grade

In STEM, students are applying what they have learned about block-based coding to invent a new robot. For their final project, teams of two work together to build and program a robot that solves a problem. We have robots that pick out clothes, teach dancing, offer therapy, clean up trash, deliver food, and more! It is such a joy to see students’ creativity and perseverance through this final project!

  • 3rd Grade
STEM News in March: Third Grade

In STEM, third-grade students are using MaKey MaKey circuit boards to invent their own computer game controllers. We celebrated the end of the unit with a “STEM arcade” as we tested each other’s controllers. This included a foot stomp pad for a dancing game, buttons for pinball, a steering wheel controller for a rocket ship game, and a soccer ball controller for a soccer game! Students persevered through technical problems as they identified ways to improve their design for the best user experience. 

  • Pre-Kindergarten
STEM News in March: Pre-Kindergarten

This month, Pre-Kindergarten students explored the engineering process by designing boats that float and by building structures for insects. Students loved testing out their boat designs in our water testing stations, as they tried to get their boats to hold more and more weight without sinking. It was also a joy to watch students build structures for insects as they considered what different insects might need, tested their designs for stability, and thought about how they might improve their designs.

  • 1st Grade
STEM News in March: First Grade

Students are wrapping up their transportation engineering unit as they continue to consider how people and other living beings move in the city. Students have enjoyed designing cars, boats, bridges, and flying vehicles. They have continued to record their observations and data in their engineering notebooks. For their final engineering project, students are designing a prototype that will help solve a transportation problem in our city. We can’t wait to see the creative designs!  

  • Pre-Kindergarten
STEM News in February: Pre-Kindergarten

Pre-Kindergarten students have been exploring the power of the wind with our wind tubes! Students are beginning to use the engineering design process to design and build objects that can fly up and out of our 8-foot wind tube. Students love testing their designs and trying to get their creations to touch the ceiling! 

  • 4th Grade
STEM News in February: Fourth Grade

In STEM, students are using the engineering design cycle to develop solutions to a variety of challenges with Lego Robotics. Working with a teammate, students are using Lego EV3 robots and block-based coding to complete the maneuvering challenges. Students have been working through a variety of roadblocks and technical challenges. They have begun adding a variety of sensors to their robots including touch sensors and distance sensors. Students have designed robots that can draw, and solve a maze and versions of alarm clock robots that run away!