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At Edgemont Elementary, teachers are implementing S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) related projects with a ‘growth mindset’ into their curriculum. On Friday, two first grade classes experienced this as they engineered their own beanstalks!

Miss Garner and Mrs. Amesse began the project by discussing ways that teams can work through problems and stressed the importance of using critical thinking skills to persevere and develop a new plan.

The students were then put into groups of five or six and asked to imagine, plan, create and improve a beanstalk that would hold weight without collapsing. Each group designated a project manager, supply manager and an encourager to manage different aspects of the project. Teams worked together to observe using all senses, create a hypothesis, identify a question that can lead to investigation, design ways to test ideas and share designs with peers for input and refinement.

Each group sketched their design and, using tools such as paper towel rolls, tape and books, built their beanstalk. Each beanstalk was presented to the class and was tested by seeing how many books it would hold. A couple beanstalks were able to hold 25 books!

The growth mindset was developed and coined by Carol Dweck, who believed that the brain is more malleable than we have been led to believe. Researchers such as Dr. Dweck began to understand the link between mindsets and achievements, realizing that if you believe your brain can grow, you behave differently. Studies have shown that when students believe they can get smarter, they are willing to put forth extra time and effort. When this transition occurs, it leads to increased motivation and achievement.

Teachers also have an impact on how students respond to failure. Miss Garner & Mrs. Amesse encourage students to change ‘I can’t do it’ to a more positive ‘I can’t do this yet’, which helps transition students from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

Alexia Diaz
  • Alexia Diaz