Full steam ahead for STEAM club at St. Francis of Assisi

GUELPH – Educators at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School are going above and beyond to encourage science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM) learning in their junior students.

Adopted by upwards of 20 Grade 5 students, club members visit the library during their first recess every Monday and Tuesday to complete engaging projects with a STEAM focus led by vice principal Michael Breadner along with the support of several classroom teachers.

They work with their staff coaches to problem solve, design, build, and test various structures and even machines, Breadner explained in a press release. 

They use a variety of materials, such as wood, cardboard, and plastic components such as gears, pulleys or even electric motors to solve a problem. 

“This past week, (before the Christmas break) Grade 5 students made a picture frame for their introductory activity. Now they are working on a small machine to see how making and fitting moving parts together can work,” Breadner said.

Breadner said the school worked with its school council and listened to their feedback around engaging junior aged students in co-curricular activities to form the STEAM club.

“As a staff we saw this as well, and we used their insight to help guide our plan in selecting which students to start this with. 

“We are happy to have STEAM activities back at St. Francis school this year based on a team-teaching approach where several staff members of our Falcon Family can become champions of these activities by embedding it into their classroom curriculum,” he added.

Beyond club participation, students in these grades have the opportunity to build their own capacity with STEAM activities directly in the classroom.

“Our staff understand there is a need for hands on learning. Well delivered STEAM activities incorporate the 21st century learning competencies, aspects of the Catholic graduate expectations, and also the new science curriculum,” Breadner said. 

“Our staff work extremely hard at St. Francis to support our students, so we felt that we should try to provide some resources, support and a team approach to make this easier to access for our staff members.”

So far the club, and subsequent education opportunities, have been well received by both students and staff.

“The response from both has been great. We have educators who are stepping into a facilitator role to support this as a club, and we also have educators bringing these concepts into their classrooms more often,” said Breadner.

Sentiments well echoed by Grade 5 student and club member Jackson, who when asked about his favourite part of being in the club, he promptly replied…”everything.”

While the club has thus far been well received by Grade 5 students, it is Breadner’s hope that the club will operate all year long, extending into additional grades.

“Our goal is to offer this to as many students in junior and intermediate as possible as the year progresses, starting with the Grade 5s,” he said. 

“We are happy to have STEAM activities back at St. Francis school this year.”