St. John Bosco preschoolers

St. John Bosco preschoolers are learning at an early age how to collaborate on STEM projects and some of their effort will be part of the school’s science fair and art show Jan. 30.

Science, technology, engineering and math – usually referred to now as STEM – have brought learning to a new level of thinking for kids at Saint John Bosco Preschool in Ahwatukee.

During their “Community” theme, pre-kindergartners recently had an opportunity to not only learn who lives in a community but how it is built from the ground up.

To answer the question, “What makes a community?” the children methodically followed steps guided by their teacher to jointly construct a viable village.

As with any project, construction started with research.

After listening to their teacher read many authors’ conceptions of what makes a community, the children reviewed various books individually and offered ideas while teachers sketched their community on the Smartboard.

They could see their input contribute to the construction process as they learned that they needed a foundation to start, then a frame, walls, roof, doors and windows. They were brought outside to physically explore the structures of their school by feeling the foundation, walls and structural supports of buildings.

To help them understand the concept of plumbing, the children poured water through foam swimming “noodles.” The class learned how electricity works by linking arms with each other, thereby demonstrating a continuous connection, and further, how a severed section in the line (one child breaks off) results in a gap, thereby interfering with electrical transmission.

The children then brainstormed together their desired buildings and how they would best function in their community.

As a class, they mapped out a drawing of their community, discussing and testing the best location for specific buildings, such as houses, stores, a library and others. Each child selected what they wanted to make and where it should be located on the map.

The children then chose materials, exploring and manipulating them to create and recreate as needed.

After designing their creations, the children collectively built their community utilizing the map they engineered to place buildings in proper places. The finished community was then analyzed to confirm that arrangement of buildings would indeed result in a pleasant, functional community.

“Critical social skills of teamwork and cooperation are also developed throughout the project as children support and collaborate with each other to produce a workable product,” said Teri Pistacchio Aguiar, an academic assistant at St. John Bosco, adding:

“Ultimately, these young children experience enormous satisfaction from working together to create a visible, tangible community, giving no thought at all to the essential life competencies being unwittingly cultivated.”

St. John Bosco and the Parish of St. Benedict are sponsoring a school-wide Science Fair and Art Show 6-7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 and an open house 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 31 for parents to meet the teachers and learn about preschool through eighth grade programs, learn how to make a private Catholic education affordable, take a guided campus tour and speak to other parents and students.

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