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Member Mention: Jennifer Uding Uses AAEF Grant to Improve STEM Learning
posted by: Melissa | July 31, 2013, 01:15 PM   

Today's guest post is by Jennifer Uding, one of our 2013 grant recipients. To find out more about AAE's scholarship and grant program and to apply, click here.


As a second grade teacher in a gifted program, I am constantly seeking new ways to keep my students engaged and thinking creatively. With the grant money I received form the AAE Foundation I was able to purchase thousands of new LEGO bricks to create two new units that combine math, architecture, art, problem solving, and technology.

Teaching girls to love math, science, and engineering is my passion. I have found that during free time the girls in my class avoid the LEGO bricks because of the mindset that boys are better at building. This inspired me to create an art unit that incorporates technology, math, and LEGO bricks. We started out the unit by studying mosaic art and how it is created. Students discovered how computers use pixels and how this process could help us create our own mosaics. We searched for examples of artwork from different time periods and styles. Students chose a piece of art they wanted to re-create and used graph paper to sketch and plan a mosaic. This project really got students thinking creatively as they looked at familiar art in a new way and created their own LEGO masterpieces.

In my architecture unit students began by learning about simple architectural concepts like arches, columns, domes, beams, and spires. We researched and explored using books, magazines, and the computer to find buildings in our area that have these features. After choosing a real building, students used graph paper to plan out a scale and draw a blueprint just like a real architect. We then worked in groups to turn our two dimensional drawings into 3-D models as each team started the construction process using LEGO bricks. Once the models were finished LEGO digital designer was used to create directions for each building. Students learned how to cooperate, share ideas, reflect, and critique each other as they encountered and solved problems during the building process. The best part is they learned STEM concepts far beyond grade level without ever realizing how hard they were really working.

Thank you AAE for the opportunity to inspire the architect, engineer, and artist in each of my students!


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