Paper helicopters whizzed down to the ground from the top of a play structure at Evergreen School. The students who built them carefully noted their aircraft’s performance, checking for flight distance and drop time.
The aviation exercise was part of Theress Stadeli’s class helicopter investigation STEM project. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. Building and launching the helicopters and tracking how far they flew before landing helped the third, fourth and fifth graders use mathematical ideas and problem solving. The students investigated shapes, lines and angles found in the helicopter template, as well as perimeter, area, ratio and average drop time.
“They are learning to use the scientific method,” said Stadeli. “They formulate a hypothsis, perform the experiment and take note of the results. Did it match with their expectations?”
According to Stadeli, the STEM areas are focused on together not only because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for student success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and in how students learn most effectively.