“This is so much cooler than just reading the story!”

Most people are familiar with the story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” when Goldilocks goes into the bears’ home and tries to find food, a place to sit, and a place to rest. Students in Megan Trader’s class at Grant Ragan Elementary are now experiencing that well-loved story in an entirely new way!

Trader was able to purchase folktale and fairytale STEM kits through a classroom grant from the Waukee Community Schools Foundation. She uses the kits as part of an inquiry study on this genre. Students read a story and then focus on the problem it presents. For example, in “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” the chair breaks when Goldilocks sits in it. The fairytale STEM kit has students discuss the elements in the story and then asks them to try and solve the problem. In this example, students use the materials in the kit to build a chair that would be just right for Goldilocks. Trader said for many kids, the stories are well-loved, but they haven’t thought about how they would solve the problem if they were the character.

She said her students get so excited whenever they have the opportunity to learn in a new way and they tend to learn best when they can apply their schema and experiences.  They could not wait to read the stories so they could tackle the STEM challenges. “These kits allow stories to come alive for all types of learners because of the STEM connection and the ability to learn through tactile features,” Trader said. Students were able to complete a new challenge every day for a few weeks because she was able to purchase a variety of kits with the grant money. 

Trader said one student, in particular, kept repeating, “This is so much cooler than just reading the story!” Students were able to immerse themselves in the tale, connect with the characters, and bring their learning to life!