Southeast Elementary students partake in creativity projects

Friday, October 6, 2017
Second-grade students in Kirby Rugen's class at Southeast Elementary School dive into their STEM Bins Thursday morning, Oct. 5. The STEM Bin project is new this year at Southeast among the second-grade teachers, Chelsea Bargfrede, Janet Lemmons and Cassel Stock. Even a student from Missouri Valley College is lending a hand.
Kelly Melies/Democrat-News

Second-grade students at Southeast Elementary School are doing something new this year as they begin the school day. Even on a particularly cloudy, rainy day, the students still seemed excited to start class, begin their work, and then open their STEM Bin for the morning.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The purpose of the STEM Bins is to build creativity, work on fine motor skills and engage students in a constructive activity.

The bins include a set of about six pictures of objects. It also includes various materials for the student to work from. The goal is for the student to select a picture and build that object with the materials contained in the bin. Once the student completes the objective of recreating the images, the student is free to explore their creative side.

Second-grade students work on their projects using the materials from their STEM Bins. Kirby Rugen, second-grade teacher, said the students seem to really love working with the STEM Bins.
Kelly Melies/Democrat-News

"They do have cards that they are supposed to do first," Kirby Rugen, second grade teacher, said. "They might build an animal home or build a slide and so they have to use those materials to do that. Then after they do the cards they get to have their creative time. They get to create their own masterpiece out of it.

"Yesterday I had a little guy make the Statue of Liberty out of it because we've been studying American symbols. It was amazing."

She asked the class as they were working on their projects and bins if they liked their STEM Bins. They all responded with a resounding yes.

A student looks through the pictures of objects to build from his bin. The students have about six pictures of objects. Once those are completed, the students are free to be creative to make their own masterpiece.
Kelly Melies/Democrat-News

The motor skills development was the teachers' own push on the STEM Bins, she said. The different activities included pertain to fine motor and eye coordination because the students have to build it.

The other second grade teachers at Southeast Elementary, Chelsea Bargfrede, Janet Lemmons and Cassel Stock, are implementing the bins into their classrooms as well.

"We started the STEM Bins this year," Rugen said. "We've probably been doing it solidly for about three weeks."

One of the students' favorite creative activities making a tower from paper cups. The students use their creativity to build many things.
Kelly Melies/Democrat-News

Rugen said there is a lot of research and information about STEM Bins.

"My team and I talked about it and we all thought it was something that we wanted to jump on board with, and the kids have really received it well," she said. "I thought it would be something that's engaging for them to do morning work."

Rugen said what she does is more of the contained activities that the student can work on individually.

"They have their favorites," she said. "There's enough bins that they can have one once a month. Then the next month they could go back to an old one they like."

She said it increases their motivation to come into class, get their jobs done in the morning to get started and stay on track.

"They do a really good job of cleaning up and moving on to the next activity," she added. "I think it's a project we're going to be continually adding to. Changing what fits the needs of the students."

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