Our Definition of S.T.E.A.M. Education

S: Physical and Social SCIENCES
T: Incorporation of TECHNOLOGY
E: Principles of ENGINEERING and Design
A: the ARTS
M: Application of MATHEMATICS

STEAMing Ahead at P.S. 120

Using Three-Dimensional Learning Across Disciplines

In an effort to work towards being Fully Integrated within the Department of Education’s STEM Framework  we at PS 120 are building capacity using various strategies. With four dedicated STEAM teachers teaching across all grades and a plan to roll-out new curriculum and staff professional learning, we are making progress towards that goal.

  • Three-Dimensional Learning: Three-Dimensional Learning shifts the focus of the science classroom to environments where students use disciplinary core ideas, cross-cutting concepts with scientific practices to explore, examine, and explain how and why phenomena occur and to design solutions to problems.

  • Scientific Processes: Students investigate and build models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems.

  • Cross-cutting Concepts: Students engage in cross-cutting concepts that have application across all domains of science. As such, they are a way of linking the different domains of science. They include: Patterns: similarity and diversity; Cause and Effect; Scale, Proportion and Quantity; Systems and System Models; Energy and Matter; Structure and Function; Stability and Change.

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas: At PS 120 we link work across multiple sciences or engineering disciplines to be a key organizing concept of a single discipline. This provides a key tool for understanding or investigating more complex ideas and solving problems.

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Disciplinary ideas are grouped in four domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science.

  • Vertical Alignment: Four STEAM specialists teach grades K-1, 2-3, 4 and 5 respectively. This team regularly meets to create a curriculum that is rigorous, hands-on and aligns to build as students progress through various concepts and skills.

  • Common Language: Teachers use common STEAM language which expands and goes deeper as students go through the years at our school. This guarantees every child has a large depth of knowledge as they build on their understanding of key science terms and concepts.

  • Productive Struggle: Students are immersed in an environment that encourages a growth mindset through productive struggle. Students learn that struggling is part of engaging in STEAM and encourages creativity, builds authentic engagement and perseverance. For teachers it creates opportunity for assessment, intervention, and feedback.

  • Parent Involvement: Bring your Dad to School Day STEAM activities allowed parents and students to “do” STEAM and enjoy a valuable bonding experience. Additionally, STEAM Fun Night invites students and families to come to the school and do multiple STEAM based project together.

  • Training: Staff members attend many professional learning opportunities outside of the school. Members of our team have attended professional development on topics such as: coding in the classroom, integrating three-dimensional learning into the STEAM classroom, using innovative assessment techniques, unpacking the new science scope & sequence, robotics, as well visiting and working with other schools to exchange ideas and best practices.

  • Building Capacity: The STEAM team and school administrators regularly meet to check where we are on the STEM Framework and what are the next steps to get there. We have a teacher who is part of the NYC Elementary Science Leadership Team and helped choose the new curriculum and write the new Scope and Sequence. This work is turn-keyed to the staff to make sure we are at the forefront of STEAM education in our school.

STEAM Specialists

  • Constance Clark Grades K-1 (member of NYC Elementary Science Leadership Team)

  • Rich Bebenroth Grades 2-3

  • Dorothy Nossa Grade 4

  • Andrea Demetropoulos Grade 5

Monthly Goals

May Goals

Kindergarten/ First grade
Kindergarten and first grade students will explore engineering and science concepts related to building bridges. We will design, create and build different bridges with a variety of materials. We will be engaging in the engineering design process, problem solving, collaboration and communication as we create our structures.
Second Grade
Students will engineer cars using varying materials and redesign processes to explore friction, gravity and mass.
Third Grade
Students will explore, use and test simple machines with the goal of creating a more complex machine
Fourth Grade
Students will understand that water is recycled by natural processes on Earth.   Students will be able to demonstrate examples of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.  
Students will explore density and buoyancy through hands-on tasks.
Students will measure volume, length, and mass of objects.
Students will model earth's processes, including erosion and deposition.

March/April Goals

Kindergarten/First Grade
Kindergarten and first grade students are engaging in the engineering design process to solve problems. This month, students are reading various folktales and working together to design solutions to the challenges the characters face. For example, we are designing an elevator for Jack ("Jack and the Beanstalk"), a strong home for the pigs ("The Three Little Pigs") and a parachute for Rapunzel. Students are having fun applying their knowledge and skills as they persist through the design process.
Second Grade
Students will understand forces and motions as they design gravity powered cars
Third grade
Students will understand force and simple machines as they learn to design their own simple and complex machines.
Fourth Grade
Students will develop concepts of energy and electricity through designing, building, and testing of electric cars.
Fifth Grade
Students will be able to identify land forms and how they are shaped by interactions between air, water, and land. Students will identify different natural disasters and how they affect the earth and how humans have inadvertently affected the frequency and severity of different natural disasters.

December/January Goals
Introduction to Robotics and
Students will be able to create basic computer code to control a robot to do simple tasks.
Students will be able to demonstrate coding skills such as: loops, variables, complex sequencing and simultaneous coding.
Third Grade
December/January Goals
Introduction to Robotics and
Students will be able to create basic computer code to control a robot to do simple tasks.
Students will be able to demonstrate coding skills such as: loops, variables, complex sequencing and simultaneous coding.
Fourth Grade
December Goals:
Students will create food chains based on descriptions of animal roles in a given environment.
Students will conduct research on a given ecosystem.
Students will create a food web for a given ecosystem.
January Goals:
Renewable and Nonrenewable Energy
Students will be able to explain how humans positively and negatively impact their environments.
Students will conduct internet research on different types of energy used to power and heat our homes. 
Students will create windmills that can stand on their own and that have spinning blades.Fifth Grade
December/January Goals
Unit: The Nature of Science - Scientific Method
Students will understand the scientific method by engaging in various experiments.
Students will observe how changing a variable affects the performance of an object.
Students will identify cause and effect relationships by conducting experiments.