Building STEAM: Club T.E.D. Students Experience Failure in a Positive Light

Michelle Berg, Director of Club T.E.D.

Tower’s Extended Day (Club T.E.D.) program engages students in collaborative projects that emphasize creativity, critical thinking and outdoor adventures in beneficial, mixed-aged groups. S.T.E.A.M. challenges—incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math—are woven throughout the curriculum. Recent projects include architectural designs, catapult building, bridge and boat making, and experimenting with artistic expression. The most recent featured a marble run.

Club T.E.D.'s Marble Run Challenge: to create a marble run using just tape and paper rolls. Two teams assembled—Team 1: Grades 1-4 and Team 2: Pre-K and K—organized their supplies and got right to work. 

Team 1’s Rhory decisively attached the rolls onto the base, while Zachary and Oliver discussed the probability of a single marble successfully traveling from tube to tube. They were confident, yet marble after marble hit the floor. Wordlessly, they adjusted the rolls and tried again. A few more adjustments, and…success! The team celebrated by sending marble after marble through their creation.

Meanwhile, the Pre-K and Kindergarten team was hard at work on their own Marble Run challenge. 

“It’s going too fast!” Oran shouted. 

“It jumped right over the next tube!” I heard Wyatt say. 

“Let’s tilt it sideways.” Fisk keenly suggested. 

Then, they dropped the marble and watched with awe, as it moved through their maze, one tunnel at a time until at last, it landed in their cup at the bottom! The boys cheered and proudly relayed their accomplishments. 

In addition to teaching important life skills, S.T.E.A.M. learning aligns with Tower’s mission to teach our students to think critically and creatively.

What I love about the S.T.E.A.M. curriculum is that it encourages teamwork and perseverance. It teaches that failure is a necessary part of problem-solving—an attitude I try to cultivate in my students each day. Most of all, I want them to know that S.T.E.A.M. isn’t only for kids who gravitate toward science and math, there is truly something for everyone.

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