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The fifth graders ended the year in STEM with Independent Studies. The Independent Studies were based on the fact that, with shelter-in-place, we would not be able to get through the rest of the curriculum as planned. Recognizing the fact that students needed to find something they were going to be invested in and passionate about pursuing, the Independent Studies were designed as a way to be similar to Genius projects.

The major tracks were as follows:

  • Biomes and the Biosphere
  • Weather and Climate
  • The Solar System

While most projects fit loosely around these themes, a few students decided to go their own way! One student was very interested in continuing the Chemistry work we started at the beginning of the year. There were also optional independent activities that students could engage in as well. 

Students were provided with guided studies that offered websites, videos, and interactive activities to read or engage in. Additionally, students created projects as a response to their studies. Many students chose Google Slide presentations, some decided to design models, one student created a Kahoot, and another student wanted to do a stop-motion animation. 

 Here are some quotes from some of the students:

 I have been doing an egg experiment where I had to put an egg in vinegar and let it sit in the vinegar for forty-eight to seventy-two hours. The result was great. But, by accident, I dropped the egg.

 I have read that engineers and architects have very similar jobs. Another thing I read was that it is not easy to design a building. There are many steps in the process along the way and you have to make correct measurements and have strong enough supports.

 I used to mostly think of these biomes as places, but now I think of them completely differently. Now that I have read so much, especially about the rainforest, I realize how many living organisms really live in these biomes/habitats.

 I like the independent study because I had a lot of fun designing and learning about Mars Rovers. Curiosity made me want to know more since I wrote a paragraph about Mars in first grade.

 In these times of uncertainty, it was important to have students engage in a study that would capture their curiosity and extend their knowledge of STEM from now through the rest of their lives.