At Gatesville Elementary School, students participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) labs as part of a rotating class. Marla Tatum teaches the class. Tatum has been teaching her STEM lab for her six years.

Tatum was asked about what STEM needs at the elementary school level and what important role it plays in the lives of elementary school children.

“My number one goal in elementary school STEM labs is to inspire a love of science and start teaching about different areas of engineering and engineering processes,” Tatum said. Get your students interested and excited about science. I often say that science is like magic, and it’s real!”

She explains to her students that science and mathematics go hand in hand. Especially when they get older and start taking challenging science and engineering classes. She wants them to understand the importance of mathematics if they become engineers or scientists.

Another big focus of STEM labs is the introduction of coding. Robotics is introduced in the classroom and students are taught beginner coding skills. Coding is essential if students want to pursue an engineering degree.

Tatum uses basic 1st through 3rd grade knowledge and skills in science to structure her classes and incorporates technology, engineering, and mathematics. An example of this lesson procedure is when students are learning about the weather. They planned to set up a station in the classroom to build a bridge out of Lego to solve the road flooding problem.

Lego is an integral part of any STEM lab. They help students develop and create various structures to solve engineering problems. Another station in the weather unit builds a tornado in a jar to help students visualize and understand tornado vortices.

The third station is to use the dash robot. Students learn basic coding skills in her STEM lab. Dash robots can then be coded to provide rescue in “fake” emergency weather situations (Technology and Engineering). The final station in this unit is to measure and record temperature at three different locations (math and tech). STEM Lab is a 30 minute class for her, so it will take weeks to complete the lesson.

Tatum said she enjoys teaching STEM at the elementary level. Because students get so excited when they do science experiments and take on engineering challenges. Very enthusiastic and excited to learn. ”

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