As part of my internship in a third grade classroom, I created a science unit about decomposition, compost, and recycling; I centered this unit, including its culminating project, around Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) standards.  The STEM unit plan details the objectives, activities, continuation of instruction from day to day, and assessment as well as the cross-curricular connections.  The activities in this unit rely heavily upon collaborative group work and meaningful experiments with real, everyday materials.  The combination of objectives and activities across the unit demonstrate my understanding of the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the disciplines integrated into the unit and exhibit how I used my knowledge to create learning experiences that make these aspects of the discipline accessible and meaningful for learners.  Creating opportunities for elementary-aged students to delve deeply into content fosters in students an appreciation for inquiry-based learning and establishes a foundation of knowledge for continued growth in the content area. 




The culminating project of my STEM unit on decomposition, compost, and recycling was a student-designed flower planter.  Students collaborated in small groups to design a biodegradable plant starter which could then be planted directly in the ground.  Students also created multimedia presentations to explain their design and discuss cost in money and impact on the environment.  This assignment, detailed through the instructions and grading rubric, I demonstrated my capacity to connect concepts and use differing perspectives to engage learners in critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem solving.  Furthermore, the unit and culminating project directly related to authentic local and global issues, and many activities in the unit required students to identify real-world issues and look for ways they as students could help.  Connecting curriculum to real-world problems and using teacher-guided, student-centered projects like the planter project inculcate a sense of connection to the world and power to get involved in world issues.  Pictured above are students engaging in several stages of the project process, including planning, selecting materials, constructing the planter, and designing the PowerPoint Presentation.  Pictured below are students with their final products.