In a class at Hunt Elementary School in Cuero one Friday, a group of fifth-grade students were tasked with building a tower out of Legos. But not just any tower – it needed to be able to hold a tennis ball without collapsing. And the catch was the students were not given any directions on how to build such a tower.
A buzz of enthusiasm filled the air as each group of students created their towers one by one through trial and error and collaboration with their teammates. At the end of the task, each tower looked different from the next but all successfully balanced the tennis ball as instructed.
This is one of the many activities conducted inside a new STREAM lab at Hunt. Underlying the fun and excitement of these hands-on activities are important lessons the students don’t realize they are learning, such as critical thinking, communication skills, creative problem-solving, adaptability and flexibility, to name a few.
Conventional curricula, with the compartmentalization of subject matter, is an important component of education and allows students to dive deeper into specific subjects. However, without a way for students to draw on the knowledge of different subjects to solve problems, the lessons learned in primary classes become less applicable in real-life situations.
Take math, for example. You likely won’t use the sine and cosine functions you learned in calculus in the real world, unless you become an engineer. But the principles you learned in math classes, such as the methodical step-by-step way of thinking, otherwise known as analytical thinking, is an important life skill to have to approach and break down complex problems.
This is where a STREAM class can come in.
A multidisciplinary approach for students, which ultimately teaches you how to approach a problem from a multitude of angles, is an important foundation of success in a world that is so interconnected.
Hunt elementary is leading the way with innovative approaches to education. Its newly implemented STREAM class is the future of learning, where combining different disciplines helps students become more well-rounded, take meaningful risks and better prepare for life. Long-time science teacher Lisa Wright, the new STREAM lab instructor at Hunt, considers the class “true 21st-century learning.”
While a multidisciplinary approach in education has been studied in relation to better preparing students for careers in technology, the kinds of skills acquired through this approach can be beneficial for any career. And it’s important to create an environment where students can apply knowledge gained from a range of different subjects because they function better together than apart.