Tuesday, November 11, 2014

STEAM Café Started

This year similarly to other schools our building needs are larger than our building space. So the mobile lab that I built two years ago was to become a classroom. Thankfully administration supported the idea of my using some space that was once part storage and part faculty lounge. The space was more a storage area than a faculty lounge. But we did have a microwave, refrigerator and a bathroom. Over the summer I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Nashville, TN with the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute. We discussed and explored many educational and edtech themes together. Thanks to Kristy Vincent we had a maker faire evening. Recently I had done some reading about STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics) instruction in the classroom and elementary school. With all these ideas swimming in my head and thought of where will I work with staff? And how will I encourage my colleagues to bring some creativity back and yet still make strides towards the common core? I passed a coffee house in Virginia called "Steamy's Cafe" twice. Each time their attractive sign out front caught my eye. While exploring a teacher store on our road trip (What else do teachers do on summer vacation roadtrips?) it finally clicked. I emailed my principal with my idea. What if I borrowed the "teachers' lounge"? I could redesign it to have multi-use spaces. We could of course setup an area with laptops for professional development. We could setup an area to make the lending library useful again. We could setup an area for teachers to come have their break and enjoy a lunch together. I'd like to incorporate the STEAM idea. Maybe make it the STEAM Cafe? And the idea was born.

So when I returned from my road trip I got to work. I reached out to members of my PLN and DEN-ln. Thank you guys! I asked if you had the opportunity to design such a space what materials would you put out. There is a joke that goes around Facebook - Teachers the only profession that steals from home and brings it to work instead of the reverse. I looked around my boxes (created when I packed up the Mobile Lab). I looked around our apartment. I visited The Christmas Tree Shop, The $1 Zone, Walmart, Target, and online stores. Supplies were gathered. Areas were designed for the various intertwined disciplines of STEAM. Coffee pots were invested in and more.

The space developed and unfolded. There was no official launch. Teachers just slowly discovered it. Some are so enamored they declare, "Don't tell people. Let this be our secret". Others are joyful and share the news with others, "Have you seen the STEAM Cafe? I'll bring in some coffee. Should we bring in some milk? Oh I have left over Halloween candy can I bring it to share?" I admit I love hearing the conversations.

So thank you to everyone and their enthusiasm. Thank you to administration for letting me have a vision and run with it to fruition. Below are a few photos from the transformation. I unfortunately don't have many before photos. But believe me it was dusty and stacked with boxes of useless items. Things were condensed and reorganized, cleaned and rearranged.

Here are a two before photos:

And now for the fun part - a few after photos:

Coffee Area

Science Area

Science Area:
Realia, Discovery DVDs, magnifying glasses, pinwheels, etc.

Science Area

Technology Area:
Laptops, SMARTBoard, desktops, Technology Scrabble

Technology Scrabble - ty DEN friends

Computer Resources

Engineering Area:
Kinex, Legos, cardboard, Popsicle sticks, battery lights, vinegar and pennies (chemical engineering)

Art Area:
Paint, stickers, glue, stencils, construction paper

Math Area:
Dice, unit blocks, geoboards (found during cleanup), books, play money

Sorry this post took so long to get written. I was busy designing and creating. I was busy teaching. Now that I've had a day off, I look forward to returning to my new space. Both this space and I will be growing and developing throughout the year. I hope to have more to share as we move forward together. If you have any ideas for additions/suggestions please share. I'm always open to ideas.