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We just wrapped up STEAM week on Friday, and while every week at Beth Hillel Elementary includes science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, last week was really special. The children signed up for their choice of three different civil engineering challenges that they were able to engage with all week. The best part was that the groups included children of all ages! Check out what each group did (below).



Steam week has been amazing!  We started the week at Underwood Farm.  Students learned how a real farm works, how to pick their own vegetables and the parts of a plant.

On Tuesday we replanted the Mitzvah Garden.  This is the third year students have been planting the Mitzvah Garden, and throughout the year they harvest the vegetables to give to the food pantry for people in need.  Students learned about the different parts of the plants we eat: roots (beets, potatoes and radish), stems (celery), seeds (peas), and leaves (kale, lettuce, and spinach).

On Wednesday we met with Ms. Plank, designed and created our own garden plaques to label all the vegetables in our Mitzvah Garden.  Students leaned about relief sculpture pressing into tin plaques to create their designs.  Then we all cooked up the delicious vegetables from Underwood Farms.  Everyone enjoyed trying roasted carrots and potatoes and a beet salad with cilantro.

Thursday students colored their garden plaques and reflected on our week in agriculture.  We also had one more cooking lesson and learned to make baked kale chips, yum.

Friday students skyped with a real dairy farmer and were taught about dairy products, breeds of cattle, lactation, nutrition and digestion.  They learned how milk travels from the cow to the milk carton in their home.



STEAM Week was informative and empowering. We started by visiting the Natural History Museum, where we participated in a scavenger hunt. Students learned about the history of Los Angeles and our water supply, which was not entirely a happy story. The Aqueduct brings us surface water from the Owens Valley. A special exhibit called, Just Add Water, by Rob Reynolds was also an interesting way for us to gain background knowledge.

On Tuesday, we leaned about ground water, namely water that comes from aquifers. We built model aquifers and observed how water can become contaminated or overused from aquifers.

On Wednesday, we learned that over 97% of the Earth’s water is salt water, and thus is not suitable for drinking. We did an experiment to show how time consuming and costly it can be to remove salt from ocean water. While this is not easy or cheap to do, Israel gets about 45% of its drinking water through desalination.

Thursday was spent planning and filming brief public service announcements about water conservation.

Friday, we began an art project with Ms. Plank. We are creating watercolor paintings that go along with a story about a little girl devised a plan to get the sky to give her community rain. These will be on display at the upcoming winter open house.


The “Earthquakers” focused on three big ideas this week:

1) What causes earthquakes?
2) How do engineers build buildings to withstand earthquakes?
3) How can we keep ourselves safe during an earthquake?
In order to answer these three questions, we:
– Went to the California Science Center, where we learned what earthquakes felt like in an earthquake simulator and we learned about features of strong buildings, such as cross bracing.
– Watched a video with Bill Nye, which taught us that the movement of earth’s plates causes earthquakes.
-Created our own structures made out of marshmallows and toothpicks and tested our designs on Jell-O to simulate an earthquake.
-Read a book that taught us to “duck, cover and hold” in an earthquake.
-Made a list of items that we need to have in an Earthquake Kit in order to be ready for a big earthquake.
-Checked the school’s earthquake shed to make sure we are ready if there is ever a big earthquake at school.
-Created stamps to communicate through art what we learned about earthquake preparedness.
Make sure to check out your child’s Earthquake Journal, and make your own Earthquake Kit at home!
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