There are few moments in my career as the Seed director that I‘ve felt prouder of our staff and students than I did on Wednesday. We tried something new and the response was overwhelmingly favorable. For nearly a whole school year, we’ve worked together to make the STEAM curriculum our own. From the tiniest hands of our Toddler 1s to researched inventors creatively displayed by the 3rd/4th graders, our Invention Convention was a celebration of much more than a science curriculum.
Each teacher thoughtfully created a display of STEAM projects and studies conducted thus far this year. All of the iPads were put to use with videos and slideshows of other classroom activities. Our Wednesday morning Lego Club, taught by a volunteer parent, even had a table full of excellent construction projects. We also had a classroom set up, designated as the “exploratorium,” full of building equipment for budding engineers to demonstrate their skills. Each teacher was stationed near her display table as children and parents filed by, taking in the significance of each class’s learning. There was a sense of respect for and honoring of the work, with families taking their time to soak it all in.
The work itself and how it was documented was impressive, as well as the parents’ appreciation of it. The children’s pride in telling about what they’d done also filled the room. What I found myself drawn to as the event unfolded, however, was the teachers themselves. I noticed how they leaned in to conversations with children, how they squatted down to a child’s level to interact and listen. I saw enthusiasm for rocks, gardening, games and colors. Some stood back slightly, thoughtfully answering questions or inserting bits of wisdom. Others actively engaged with children as they tested catapults, tried out marble runs and excavated specimens from rocks. It was a beautiful combination of kindness, creativity and deep thoughtfulness.
As the event came to a close and we all commented what a success it was, I reflected on the process that brought us to this day. In many respects, it seemed easy to put together the Invention Convention. It was a culmination of work that has been going on all year. Everyone has been diligent about photographing their work and we’ve been talking about STEAM since the first week of school. The sense of ease rested on a foundation of critical thinking, creative expression and thoughtful problem solving. These are all qualities we strive to pass on to our students, qualities that will prepare them significantly for their future lives. There is power in this kind of authenticity and I’m delighted that so many were able to experience it through our first Invention Convention.