We add value to STEM with animals


Picture provided by the author, attribution CC-BY

In this blog post, Rukiye Akyol talks about an eTwinning project in which she participated with eighteen teachers from five countries (Turkey, Malta, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, North Macedonia). The aim of the project was to learn about animals and environmental issues through STEM. The project touched on three main themes: animals living on land, animals living in the water and animals that can fly. Teachers formed teams for each topic and prepared lesson plans together.

For the first theme, land-dwelling animals, the question we addressed was: why do turtles walk so slow and how can we speed up their pace? Students designed a movable device – made from waste materials – to carry a turtle. They also implemented activities to get to know turtles better. Students shared the designs they created in a student webinar. Next, teachers created a joint product in which all partners participated. During the activity, parents, teachers and students received expert training on stray animal protection.

For the second theme, the problem identified was the decrease in corals and the pollution of the seas. Students had to come up with a solution to this situation and design an instrument that would clean the sea. To start, students learnt and researched about corals and sea pollution. They did so through mathematics, experimentation, reading and writing. Next, students presented their solution – which had to be made from waste materials and floating – in a student webinar. We also received training on marine pollution from an environmental engineer.

For our last theme, flying animals, we focused on migratory birds. The problem identified was migratory birds that lose their way owing to tall buildings and, eventually, die. Students designed storey, horizontal buildings and built nests for migratory birds on top of them.

Rukiye Akyol is a pre-school teacher based in Turkey. She considers that learning STEM at an early age is very important. That’s why she seeks to integrate STEM lesson plans into her classes.

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