Technology & Engineering
Welcome to the Technology & Engineering classroom page! The Technology & Engineering program at A2 STEAM is housed in the STEAM Lab for 4th-8th grade instruction, and the computer lab for Young 5s-3rd grade instruction. Technology & Engineering for 4th-8th is taught by Mr. Van Loo, and for Young 5s-3 grade is taught by Mr. Luxon. To get a glimpse into the day-to-day activities, follow the A2 STEAM Lab on Twitter!
Below, you will find curriculum overviews for Kindergarten through 8th grade at A2 STEAM.
Each student in grades Kindergarten through 4th grade has Technology & Engineering once per week for 30 minutes.
At the beginning of kindergarten, students are given a gentle introduction to engineering using a series of books by Andrea Beatty, including "Iggy Peck, Architect", and "Rosie Revere, Engineer". These are accompanied by simple hands-on projects that introduce kindergarten students to a variety of simple tools, as well as giving them introductory experiences using the engineering design process.
Next, students move into the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) computer science module called Animals & Algorithms. In this module, students explore the nature of computers and the ways humans control and use technology. Starting with an unplugged activity, students learn about the sequential nature of computer programs. Students are inspired by a story in which Angelina, Mylo, and Suzi make videos to teach preschoolers about animals in their habitats. Then, students work in small groups to design and program a simple digital animation about an animal in its habitat.
First graders begin the year with a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) computer science module called Animated Storytelling. In this module, students explore the computer programs through hands-on activities, both with and without a computer. They examine key aspects of storytelling and devise how to transition a narrative from page to screen. Combining fundamental principles of computer science with story-building skills, students develop animations that showcase characters, settings, actions, and events from short stories of their own creation, using ScratchJr.
After completing this module, students are given a range of hands-on engineering & maker-oriented activities and projects, using resources in both the STEAM Lab and the Makerspace.
In second grade, students begin the year with a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) computer science module called Grids & Games. Students investigate numerical relationships while learning about the sequence and structure required in computer programs. Starting with computer-free activities and moving to tablet-based challenges, students apply addition and subtraction strategies to make characters move on a grid.
Using skills and knowledge gained from these activities, students work together in groups to design and develop a game in ScratchJr in which a player interacts with objects on their iPad.
After completing the Grids & Games module, second graders do a series of station-based activities called Maker Workshop, in which they explore a wide range of concepts and topics. These include basic electronic circuits, engineering design challenges, coding, and digital art. After time to try out all these different ideas, second graders are challenged to define a final project idea that takes one or more concepts they’ve learned, and to apply this to a project they are personally interested in pursuing. This project work is documented using Seesaw.
During third grade, students focus on a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) computer science module called Programming Patterns.
This module introduces students to the power of modularity and abstraction, starting with computer-free activities and progressing to programming in a block-based language on their iPad called Hopscotch. Students learn how to think computationally about a problem. Students then create a tablet game using modular functions and branching logic.
During this module, third graders use their new knowledge of programming patterns to engage in a collaborative STEAM project with the art room. As they learn to use Hopscotch, they will program a character to draw a pattern on the screen. They then learn how to use the Silhouette Cameo, a computer-controlled digital fabrication tool, to cut out their pattern in paper. These paper patterns are then used with the art teacher to do a printmaking process where they use their patterns as a resist.
Fourth grade students begin with a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) computer science module called Input/Output: Computer Systems.
In this exploration of how computers work, students are encouraged to make analogies between the parts of the human body and parts that make up a computer. Students investigate reaction time as a measure of nervous system function. Students create a reaction-time computer program to assess a baseline before a concussion occurs. Students apply what they have learned to build their own reaction-time measurement devices on tablets. This module has strong connections to the fourth grade Human Brain module.
After completing this module, fourth graders are given time to explore a set of choices, including additional coding, 3D modeling, and electronic music. These choices then lead them to defining a final project idea that takes one or more concepts they’ve learned, and applying this to a project they are personally interested in pursuing. This project work is documented using Seesaw.
In 5th grade, students explore robotics using Vex IQ, led by Mr. Vince in the 5th grade classrooms. Two Project Lead the Way modules are used, called Robotic & Automation.
In the first Robotic & Automation module, students explore the ways robots are used in today’s world and their impact on society and the environment. Students learn about a variety of robotic components as they build and test mobile robots that may be controlled remotely. They are tasked with designing a mobile robot that can remove hazardous materials from a disaster site.
In the second module, students expand their understanding of robotics as they explore mechanical design and computer programming. This module focuses on developing skills needed to build and program autonomous robots. Students work with a group to apply their knowledge to design, build, test, and refine an automatic-guided vehicle to deliver supplies to a specific area in a hospital without being remotely controlled by a person.
Middle school Technology & Engineering classes at A2 STEAM are each one trimester long (12 weeks).
Sixth grade students at A2 STEAM take a required Project Lead the Way (PLTW) course called Design & Modeling.
In Design & Modeling, students discover the design process and develop an understanding of the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They are then challenged and empowered to use and apply what they’ve learned throughout the unit to design a therapeutic toy for students with special needs, including cerebral palsy.
During Design & Modeling, students learn to create and understand engineering drawings, develop their skills in precision measuring with both standard and metric units, begin 3D modeling using free Tinkercad software, use digital fabrication such as 3D printing to rapidly iterate through design ideas, and use elements of biomedical engineering and computer science to understand problems more deeply.
Students in the seventh grade Automation & Robotics course trace the history, development, and influence of automation and robotics as they learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Students use the VEX Robotics® platform to design, build, and program real-world objects such as traffic lights, toll booths, and robotic arms.
This is an elective course for A2 STEAM seventh graders.
The Technology & Engineering course for A2 STEAM eighth graders is a unique offering, combining the Project Lead the Way course called Computer Science for Innovators & Makers with a special 5-week opportunity called the Capstone Project.
In Computer Science for Innovators & Makers, students are able to discover computer science concepts and skills by creating personally relevant, tangible, and shareable projects. Throughout the unit, students learn about programming for the physical world by blending hardware design and software development. They design and develop a physical computing device, interactive art installation, or wearable, and plan and develop code for microcontrollers that bring their physical designs to life.
In the Capstone Project, students are given tremendous agency as they identify a problem or opportunity they are personally interested in, and then use the engineering design process to guide them through conducting research, identifying solutions, creating a working prototype, and testing their design ideas. The Capstone Project culminates with students sharing their design work with the class and the broader community.