Salt River Elementary School (SRES) recently received a grant from Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) to purchase tablets for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The school applied for the grant as a way to help it be considered an introductory Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) school, with the hopes of one day becoming a full-immersion STEM school.
Lynette Charlie, first-grade teacher and STEM coordinator for SRES, discussed how the school has been integrating the tablets into school assignments.
“We received the grant money and with it we are able to provide training for teachers, send students to STEM-related activities, help with field trips, upgrade science materials and purchase materials [to be used] toward STEM projects,” said Charlie.
As part of the process, the school was able to purchase a STEM lab outfitted with 25 tablets that teachers can use to integrate technology into their science programs.
“It has been very exciting. Our IT department helped with the purchase, as well as research for both the students and teachers,” said Charlie.
The students have adjusted well to adding the technology to their academic day. For example, the first-graders in Charlie’s class used the tablets to learn about the events of 9/11, which led to a discussion about the engineering of buildings; and a kindergarten class read a story about a bear who was itchy, and then discussed how to build a tool to help the bear scratch. The upper grades use the tablets every day.
The tablet lab has helped the students expand their world by connecting to the Internet for virtual science lessons. There are about four computers in each classroom, but with everyone having a tablet in their hands, the students can all be on the same page at the same time.
“We are using the tablets during our reading intervention time as well as our math time,” said Maria Enriquez, third-grade teacher at SRES. “We also have been working with programs such as Microsoft Publisher, and the students have been learning how to drop photos or make artwork.” The students also have been learning how to make PowerPoint presentations using the tablets.
“Overall my kids love using the tablets more than once a week,” said Anissa Bark, third-grade teacher at SRES. “[They’re] using them to take assessments online, [play] online games and learn some of the Microsoft Suite programs. All of my students are eager to learn, and they catch on very fast.”