Olympia Christian School STEAMs Ahead

June 21, 2020 | Education | Sharron Schwartz

Science and art have been combined throughout the years for enhanced student learning. This has developed more with the changing emphasis on STEAM curriculum, which is focused on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

The science lab at Olympia Christian School was well-stocked and organized when the school located to its present building some 10 years ago. The lab space has been well-used. However, it was necessary to rethink the use of the space.

STEAM education focuses on inquiry and problem-based learning methods. It requires additional equipment and a different use of the space from a standard elementary science lab.   

OCS needed to redesign the space to accommodate kindergarten through eighth grade classes for science and art including current technology, working arrangements conducive to collaboration and storage for robotics, chemistry and art. The project lingered at the bottom of the “to do list” of the principal and staff, until the team learned of a Versacare grant. OCS applied for the grant and received $5,000. What a blessing to this school of 38 students!

With the help of parent Kari Lima, the school staff were able to determine what new equipment and supplies were needed to coincide with science texts and with a school interest in robotics. Lima meticulously combed through the various materials and supply lists for experiments in the school's elementary textbooks to compile a “have” and “need to obtain” list. 

The project also included Cecelia and Mauricio Espinoza. The Espinozas painted the room, including the painting of a Bible verse onto the focal wall. They purchased additional shelving and replaced long work tables with smaller four-person tables. They also restocked the miscellaneous items every STEAM lab needs and added microscopes, a projector, robotic kits and art supply storage.

Before COVID-19 changed the delivery of education from in-person to online, all classes in kindergarten through eighth grade were able to use this learning space for art, science and after-school programs in health and robotics. It is a blessing to be able to go to another room for a change of pace, where art can dry and science projects can be left partially completed and safely stored, ready for the next class. 

The Versacare grant, the labor of volunteers and the help of teachers during their summer vacation brought about a dream to convert this underutilized space into a fun, motivating, collaborative space for OCS students.