With the new California Standards, education is seeing an emphasis on integrating subjects versus isolating. Currently, STEAM education is at the forefront of recognizing this need and is providing models to help do so. STEAM stands for the major disciplines intended to be integrated: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. At Kings Beach Elementary, we are enthusiastic of this shift and have created a “STEAM” lab in room 17 at our school. This lab is dedicated to a holistic approach to education that includes spaces for hands-on learning, building, pattern recognition, robotics, and life skills that have been lagging in recent years. This space is available to all classes and is designed to be user friendly and sustainable. As our knowledge grows for the needs of STEAM education and what we offer, our lab will grow, too. Therein lies the purpose of this grant. Food, health, nutrition, critical thinking and collaboration are very important to the 21st Century student. We don’t know what jobs we’re preparing our students for, but we do know that they need to understand how their body works, the fuel it needs to thrive, how to work with others and how to solve problems in order to be successful in the future. Cooking in a small group embodies these goals which are a part of STEAM and the 21st Century student learning needs.
There is a trend across the United States in which most students, coming from a lower socio-economic status, depend on meals served at school and not in their homes. Over half of our students at Kings Beach Elementary represent this demographic, at least 188 students, which lends itself to an increasingly important learning opportunity; learning how to work together to create a meal. This opportunity ties in multiple learning standards in science with measuring, observing and changing states of matter, creating chemical reactions and experimenting with variables (ingredients). In addition, cooking together in a classroom or in a small group easily integrates multiple disciplines when it comes to learning about cultural traditions, nutrition and anatomy, and using collaboration skills of communicating needs, solving problems, and sharing materials. With the help of the Charlie Cart Project, we can teach students about food, health and nutrition and start a trend, better than the national average, that ties together standards in science, math, social studies and language and fosters lifelong healthy habits.
The success of this program builds upon our district-wide nutrition policy, B-Fit program, and Harvest of the Month program, and it adds one missing component, a student friendly cooking facility at KBE. The Charlie Cart is the next step for KBE students to better understand why food is important and how learning to cook can help them learn in multiple other ways. In addition, student experiences with seasonal ingredients, following a recipe, delegating tasks, carefully using sharp tools, caring for materials, and delight in the reward of their hard earned meal will be measures of success for this program along with the mastery of multidisciplinary standards that they will enjoy learning because they will be taught in an authentic way.
Implementation of this program will work like other STEAM Lab materials. There will be a dedicated spot for the Charlie Cart in the STEAM Lab where it will be ready for use, or teachers will be allowed to check it out of the lab using our online staff calendar and a maximum of three days. There will be instructions for use, photos of expected clean-up and labels for material locations printed and laminated on the cart. As the science teacher, I will monitor cart use on Thursday and Friday during my STEAM Lab times. In addition, I will be available during Thursday and Friday STEAM Lab times to help teachers use the cart with their classes.
The Charlie Cart is intended for use by all teachers. With the implementation plan similar to other STEAM Lab equipment, sharing will be familiar to teachers and should promote the use of the cart and the included curriculum.
It may be possible for the cart to be partially funded through our science budget and PTO.