A Hands on Tour of the New Primary Creation Station

On Thursday May 9, the Creation Station was buzzing with parents eager to learn more about what their primary children do in these new facilites at La Chât. Laid out around the room were computers, Lego robotics, digital microscopes, Makey Makeys, a 3D printer and other contraptions that at first seemed unfamiliar to parents.

Many of the Creation Station resources were sponsored by funds donated by the PTA raised at the Marché de St.Nicolas Gift basket auction. Increasing the number of resources in school meant that, when the Creation Station opened in September 2018 as a replacement of the former ICT room, next to the library, it was filled with STEAM experiences. The Creation Station is a designated space set-up to explore STEAM learning and new models of engagement within the PYP curriculum. Children use their time in the Creation Station to work on unit-connected projects which draw on ‘maker’ skills of collaboration, experimentation and reflection. 

Digital microscope packaging and view from digital microscopes

For example, Year 3 classes used their time in the Creation Station to deepen their understanding of the recent unit’s central idea: Responsible choices contribute to reducing waste. During collaborative planning it was agreed that children should understand and feel empowered by the notion that even a small, personal action can make a difference. With that in mind, Creation Station sessions focused on sustainability and how new ways of looking at waste can help to reduce consumption. Working in teams, children were given a digital microscope inside a box which they had to investigate. They explored the packaging to understand its function and form using their math skills to count the number of pieces of packaging and the digital microscopes to analyse the types of materials. Children then explored different materials in detail, looking at the structure of  materials such as cotton, wool, felt and paper, cardboard and plastic. Next, they were given the task of designing a packaging system for the digital microscopes that would be more consistent with the central idea of their unit of inquiry. As usual, the children came up with some wonderful suggestions including egg box shaped packaging for 6 microscopes wrapped in paper, or using a soft material to wrap and protect the microscopes, like fake fur or wool, which could then be reused.

Year 4 students were on hand to show parents how to create Lego robotics using detailed step by step instructions as part of their unit of inquiry on simple machines. During their Creation Station time, Year 4 students were left to work independently with a partner where they needed to develop their ability to work in pairs and coordinate their efforts. Children had to learn to negotiate which piece of lego to use next as they followed complex step by step instructions to build their robot.

Scratch programming

Programming with Scratch is also a central part of the Creation Station. This is a far cry from how some of the parents learned to program using punch cards. Scratch is a block-based visual programming language targeted primarily at children, allowing users to create online projects through a drag and drop block-like interface. Scratch is used as the introductory language to programming because it is relatively easy, and skills learned can be applied to other programming languages such as Javascript or Python. Children can create animations, quizzes, games, stories, music, and more. 

Tin foil eating utensil created in a rapid Creation Station rapid design challenge

Other activities in the Creation Station have included designing eating utensils, with only a small piece of tin foil, for use by another child. Children had to interview a partner and understand what the eating utensils were needed for: the type of food, the texture and other properties. This helped teach the children empathy, develop their communication skills and set specific design goals to meet the requirements of their partner. A rapid design task encourages children to build creative confidence by learning through experimentation. 

The next steps for the Creation Station is to move into the classrooms as teachers integrate more STEAM activities into their program. The Creation Station will become a library of STEAM tools that can be borrowed by teachers and used directly into their classrooms to enhance the knowledge they are trying to convey to their students.

A special thank you to Mrs. Deirdre Canavan, STEAM/Maker Space Co-ordinator, for organizing this unique hands on journey for primary parents.

You may also wish to follow the Twitter account (@TechPRICHA) which will have general and specific Creation Station tweets of interest.


By:  Karen Eugeni

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