The Upper Elementary students love their “Out of the Box” time in the classroom. During “Out of the Box” time, the teachers introduce a specific piece of literature and then students are presented with a challenge that relates to that story. In groups, students use teamwork and problem solving skills to collaborate on how to solve a specific challenge within a certain period of time. These activities are rooted in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M) and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M) and are a fantastic complement to our already rich and integrated Montessori curriculum.
The teachers introduced the last challenge of the year by reading Humpty Dumpty. Students were then asked to create a structure to put an egg in that would then be dropped from a specific height. The goal was to have the egg remain unbroken after being dropped. There was excitement and a buzz of anticipation as the students created their structures. When the time was up, Mr. Ryan dropped the structures and students cheered as unbroken eggs were pulled from most of the structures. In addition to addressing S.T.E.M., these challenges give students the opportunity to collaborate and use their problem-solving skills to actively solve each challenge. These skills, although not traditionally considered academic skills, are essential for the 21st century learner and are fostered every day in a Montessori environment.