By Heather Collins
In 2014, St. Mark’s Preschool created the “Make BEE-lieve” room in honor of Henley Romine, a St. Mark’s Preschool student, nicknamed Brave Bee, who died at age 4 from neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer, in 2013. The room, which celebrates Henley’s love for make believe and learning, had transitioned from a dramatic play room to a play grocery store and play fire station.
In February, St. Mark’s Preschool Director Jennifer Weixler launched a STEAM-themed space in the “Make BEE-lieve” room for the school’s 93 preschool students, ages 2 to 5. The room houses some of the youngest students utilizing STEAM, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and math. The STEAM room is one of the first to be offered at the preschool level in Carmel.
Students utilize the classroom one to three times per week.
“This is a very hands-on way for them to learn and explore,” Weixler said.
Weixler said the STEAM-themed room is a creative way to help students problem-solve and think critically and creatively. Students are given unstructured time to play with a variety of activities, including a pulley filled with stuffed animals that hangs from the ceiling, a light table, building blocks, tube magnets, marbles and robots.
Students figure out how to connect various sized tubes to create a path for a marble to pass through, how to connect gears to create movement and how to blend colors on a light table. They are able to use their imagination with a variety of building materials.
“I’ve got a couple of budding little girl engineers out there building with the boys,” preschool teacher Karen Vanneman said.
Weixler said she is amazed what the students can figure out, build and analyze in the STEAM-themed room. She said the room also encourages body movement, team-building, communication and language.
For information, visit stmarkscarmel.org/preschool.