White River Elementary expands STEAM program


White River Elementary School staff recently enhanced a program in their building called ‘Two Chicks and a STEAM Teacher,’ which began last school year.

Principal Calie VanDermark said the program, which follows the life cycle of a chicken, is part of a schoolwide learning initiative that involves all students, staff and community members and builds “connection and curiosity.”

“With the help of the (Noblesville Schools Education Foundation) and our (Parent Teacher Organization), we were able to expand the project this year to meet the needs and requests of our students,” VanDermark said.

School staff planned the program around Indiana’s Integrated STEM Standards, which give students opportunities to participate in “real-world problem-solving” and more.

As part of the program, fifth-graders have begun learning to build a chicken coop starting with a drawn-up design. They will then begin making models of the coops in groups of three.

“We are going to be building a chicken coop with all of our fifth-grade class, and then it will go on the school grounds, and the chicks we are going to be raising, when they’re ready, will get to use the chicken coop on the school grounds,” said White River STEAM teacher Justin Brummett.

Fourth-graders are learning how to use tools that they will eventually use to build the coops by working on bird houses. Both grades are also focusing on the character traits of the chickens.

Jamie Harris, White River’s media specialist, said kindergarteners have been focusing on the warmth and humidity needed to hatch the eggs, and first-graders are learning what is happening inside the eggs. Second-graders are working on the growth process of the chicks, and third-graders are working on life-cycle standards.

“For third-graders, we have worked in some math and science standards (by having them) observe growing patterns and behaviors,” Harris said.

White River Nurse Autumn Clark, owner of Farm House on Seven in Noblesville, houses a coop with several chickens from last year’s life cycle project at White River.

“The impact of this project is that it creates core memories and allows for continued community collaboration outside of the classroom,” Clark said. “We are able to add to our supply to provide fresh eggs to local neighbors, and we get to share the impact beyond the walls of the school. As a parent, this opportunity for our kids means the world to me.”