Literacy Matters Vol 24 Winter 2024

jeep go the distance. During the creating phase, the groups were encouraged to test the jeep in their work area for initial observations. This initial test phase fostered conversation within the group while determining if the jeep would veer off the track or hit any bumps. The initial test run (see Figure 3) used a multi-color road to measure where each jeep landed. After the test run, each group was given 5 minutes to make any adjustments to the ramp before the official competition began. After the improvement phase, each ramp was placed on an incline, ready to roll. The pre-service teachers used measurement tools to determine which ramp created the most force and motion by measuring the distance of each jeep. During the creating and testing process, key force and motion vocabulary words were used in conversation. Preservice teachers engaged in the process and wanted to extend the lesson by testing the ramp at different heights to document variations. The students used the same multi-color ramp with their new knowledge about force and motion acquired during the first test run to make improvements. In this extension phase, pre-service teachers could choose different inclines to determine if this made

while learning through failures (Nair et al., 2020). Incorporating a STEM perspective allows teachers to be more intentional in their teaching, facilitates the integration of multiple content areas, increases engagement, and leads to young students demonstrating an appropriate understanding of concepts and articulating related questions (Tippett & Milford, 2016).

The Engineering

Design Process incorporates a cyclical thinking process that promotes repetition of steps while making improvements. The five components of the design process are Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve (see Figure 2). Experiencing

Literacy Matters General Articles

Figure 2 The Engineering Design Process Taken from University of Colorado Boulder (2023)

the engineering design process nurtures students’

abilities to create innovative solutions to challenges in any subject (Nair et al., 2020). Teachers can use STEM as a useful approach to planning activities that foster student curiosity about the world around them (Tippett & Milford, 2016). STEM projects in the early grades can include a variety of projects that allow students to build, design, solve a problem, and engage with technology.

any difference (see Figure 4). Actively participating in the STEM project involved pre-service teachers in the learning process. This project provided foundational learning experiences for them to apply in their own classrooms. Conclusion

Based on the force and motion example using Sheep in a Jeep , pre-service teachers were taught to include a STEM project aligning with science and

Figure 4 Test Run of the Jeeps After Improvements

literacy content. In the book Sheep in a Jeep , the sheep are on a steep hill and

According to Friedrich et al. (2020), teaching literacy and STEM can be mutually supportive endeavors. Even though I focused on pre-service teachers in a science methods course, early childhood or elementary teachers can implement these practices in their classrooms. With a renewed focus on science, teachers may search for methods to integrate science into an overflowing classroom schedule. According to the Next Generation Science Standards, reading aloud and writing about science can help facilitate integral subject matter knowledge in science (NGSS, 2023). Integrating science and literacy is one way to increase student access to science learning while maximizing classroom instructional time. This article provided one example of how a fictional text can be used to support science and literacy learning with a STEM twist. After reading this article, I hope you are inspired to engage children in science learning that motivates exploration and conversation. Encourage students to express what they are doing and thinking about during science activities.

eventually get stuck. To begin the STEM project, I asked pre-service teachers an open ended question to begin the engineering

Figure 3 Initial Test Run of the Jeeps

design process: “What type of ramp will give the sheep in the jeep the most distance without pushing?”This question sparked the pre-service teachers’ curiosity to imagine what type of ramp created from recycled boxes and tape would go the distance. Depending on the grade level, young students could build slides or ramps to see what objects can roll down the slide or create an incline that creates the most motion. The pre-service teachers were placed in small groups to plan and design a ramp to give the plastic jeep the most motion on the set incline.

Once the ramps were completed, each group completed a test run to determine the improvements needed to make the

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