Overbrook fourth-graders spent time this fall studying tree classifications and then put their knowledge to work identifying sugar maples on campus that they are now tapping for sap and turning into maple syrup.
Before the Christmas break, the students began studying weather so that they can follow temperatures and conditions when they return in January to know when the trees are ready to be tapped.
“This makes learning real,” said Sister Jane Michael, O.P., who teaches fourth-grade science. “They can transfer this knowledge. For example, in math on the test we took recently there was a question about diameter. One of the students asked me about it and I said, ‘Remember what we did when we went outside and measured the diameter of the trees?’”
This year-long lesson is a STEM project, which is curriculum “based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach,” according to LiveScience. It began in the classroom as students studied classification in science and measurements in math. The lesson then moved outside on the 83-acre Dominican Campus.