The STEAM activity selected for this discussion involves students designing a bridge or a building and observing its performance and structural integrity in a simulated earthquake. The general topic of this paper is engineering design and earthquakes. The learning activity combines the STEM subject of engineering with the art element of constructing a simple physical structure. The art element plays a vital role in exploring and comprehending engineering design and the effects of earthquakes on structures.
The hands-on art activity allows the learners to recognize and understand how earthquakes can impact structures such as buildings, bridges, and other construction. Consistent with Jumaat et al.’s (2017) observations on project-based learning, this activity also allows students to learn and apply engineering design principles to constructing, testing and modifying structures in response to natural events such as earthquakes.
Family and community engagement in students’ education has become integral to maintaining success over time. Epstein (2018) perceives education as a kind of ‘teamwork’ and emphasizes that what students learn in class is reinforced at home and in other social contexts. One way of engaging families and the community in this meaningful STEAM activity is asking parents to attend the classroom and volunteer in helping the student to construct the buildings. Giving them the opportunity to organize and lead this learning can be an effective way of empowering them. Encouraging them to take partial or full responsibility for the project would help not only obtain active participation but also sustain their engagement and support throughout the activity.
In addition to asking parents and community members to be a part of the classroom activity, keeping the activity brief can help achieve greater engagement. This strategy acknowledges that most parents are busy (Epstein, 2018). Another strategy is visiting homes to talk about students’ progress in school, how parents can help them with homework, and the value of participating in the STEAM activity and other school events. The last strategy for achieving meaningful family and community engagement is ensuring that the STEAM project is culturally relevant.
Epstein, J. L. (2018). School, family, and community partnerships in teachers’ professional work. Journal of Education for Teaching, 44(3), 397-406. Web.
Jumaat, N. F., Tasir, Z., Halim, N. D. A., & Ashari, Z. M. (2017). Project-based learning from constructivism point of view. Advanced Science Letters, 23(8), 7904-7906. Web.