For the preschoolers at St. Virgil Academy (SVA) in Morris Township, the story does not end after the last page is read and the book is put back on the shelf. Actually, that is usually just the beginning of the adventure for the four-year-olds in Mrs. Patsy Dewey’s class. You see, Mrs. Dewey has been trained in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) approach to teaching and clearly understands how that curriculum can be applied to even the youngest of learners.
“This particular adventure really began when I read Jan Brett’s book, The Three Snow Bears, to the class,” explains Dewey. The story, a twist on the original Goldilocks and the Three Bears, took the students to the Arctic where a little Inuit girl ventures into an igloo belonging to a snow bear family. “With this particular story, it was the igloo that captured my students’ curiosity,” Dewey recalls. “They wanted to know more, like who lived in them, what they were made of, how they were constructed, and so forth.”
This is where Dewey’s STEM training made all the difference. Rather than just answering those questions and moving on, the preschool teacher helped the children learn and discover the world of igloos. After a computerized lesson on how igloos are actually made, the students headed into the school’s dedicated STEM laboratory for some hands-on engineering.
“After supplying them with materials like styrofoam, paper plates, glue and cups, the children used their imaginations and building skills to come up with some really creative igloo designs,” boasts Dewey. “They really enjoyed the whole lesson.”
So, from just one little story, the students had a chance to learn about a new part of the world, how another culture lives, the science and engineering involved in building igloos and how to design one of their very own. “The hands-on learning and discovery at the heart of the STEM philosophy is really the best part of the
whole process,” explains Dewey. “Seeing those children take hold of an idea and bring it to life is incredibly rewarding.”
St. Virgil Academy, a co-educational PreK through Grade 8 school on the campus of St. Virgil Parish, also just recently introduced a new PlaySchool program for children as young as two years of age. To learn more about the school and all of its offerings, call the office on 973-539-7267, visit their website at www.stvirgilacademy.org or attend their school-wide open house scheduled for Saturday, February 2, 2013 from 1:00 – 4:00 PM.