The Goddard School in Chantilly, Virginia, embarked on a brand-new, hands-on learning experience this fall that combined engineering and literacy with global perspective.
The preschool partnered with Level Up Village to connect students to peers from across the world for shared STEAM (STEM + Arts) projects and cultural exchange. Pre-Kindergarten students were paired with partner students at schools in Ukraine and Zimbabwe through LUV’s lobal Storybook Engineers course.
”When Level Up Village offered us the opportunity to pilot their Pre-K curriculum, I jumped at the chance! STEAM activities are already an essential part of our program, and our teachers were excited to teach engineering through a new context,” said Risa May, Owner, Goddard School Chantilly.
In Global Storybook Engineers, children harnessed the power of fairytale and myth to learn the fundamentals of engineering. They listened to a number of folk tales, stories and myths from different cultures, and worked together to engineer solutions to rescue storybook heroes.
Hands-on projects included building spaghetti towers, making boats and building Bristlebots. Students then shared and compared their design challenges with partner students in Ukraine and Zimbabwe through a series of video exchanges and learned about each other’s lives and cultures in the process.
“Pre-K is the right age to start considering other perspectives, as well as the concept of ‘far away.’ Getting to know students from across the world is a fun and meaningful way to explore both of those big ideas,” said Risa.
“The children talk about their ‘friends in Ukraine’. I know they talk about them at home, too, because their parents tell me,” said Pam Spencer, PreK teacher at Goddard Chantilly.
Students were also delighted to discover what they had in common with their new friends across the world.
“We both play soccer! We both watch Cars! We both celebrate Christmas!” said Daniel, whose class was paired with a partner class in Zimbabwe.
“Early education is the foundation for all that follows, and a shared goal of all educational settings is to shape students into caring citizens of the world. Our students already live in a thriving international community here in Northern Virginia. The LUV program deepens and extends their appreciation for other cultures,” said Risa.
The two Pre-Kindergarten classes so enjoyed their experience, the teachers have signed up to do it again. They look forward to meeting new children in another country. This will also give them a chance to explore another curriculum, Global Sound Artists, which focuses on world music and the science of sound.
“It was exciting for us as teachers to see our students go beyond our expectations with STEAM concepts and it was interesting focusing on another country and their culture,” explained PreK teacher Stephanie Shaeffer. “Our students relate well to music and movement, so we think this music curriculum will be a success!”