Teacher Experience: “Civil Engineer” Task for 6th Grade Engineering & STEM Students
A Defined STEM Learning Experience From:
6th Grade Engineering/ STEM teacher
Mount Lebanon Elementary (SC)
Civil Engineer – Water Treatment
Here’s What We Did:
What were the chances of this happening? In the midst of the biggest rain event in 1000 years (that caused major flooding events throughout North
and South Carolina), my classes were right in the middle of this Civil Engineer – Water Treatment project, making it extremely relevant to students when more than two feet of rain fell in a matter of a few days.
When beginning this project the students had essentially no understanding of what water treatment in a suburban or metropolitan setting was. From their perspective, the water coming out of the faucet at home was always clean, and the only ‘dirty’ water was in 3rd world countries. After watching the water reclamation video, I witnessed an entire class of students have the ‘ah-ha’ moment every teacher hopes for. They were able to connect what they were learning in school to their everyday lives.
Additionally, students created their own mini-filtration system to simulate what happens in a water treatment center using cups, dirt, rocks, water, and
a coffee filter. The model was highly engaging, educational, and virtually free to recreate. Students took a field trip to the local water treatment facility to further connect what they’ve learned in the classroom to everyday life and to future careers.
Why Defined STEM Was the Perfect Fit:
Defined STEM works because as a classroom teacher, time is a limited resource. To have a site that has everything in one place, that provides me with the ability to tweak the lessons if needed, and assign it to students all using our given technology makes good use of time and resources. The topics are relevant and standard based – can’t beat that. Students were highly motivated in using technology to research and create an actual model of a water treatment center. Students enjoyed the lesson because they were responsible for their own learning and could go at their own pace. It was exciting as an educator to see students fully engaged in learning!