Human catapult, shadow-dodging teaches movement & so much more

STEAM-PE collaboration utilizes teamwork and problem-solving

Andrea Donovan preps her students for the human catapult as part of a collaborative STEAM-PE week

Ahmir Anderson looked pleased as he finished a game of human catapult in a combined STEAM-PE class at the Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center.

“It was very fun,” said the first grader. “I was a loader and knocked pins down.”

For the human catapult game, students were divided into ball retrievers/loaders and catapults — or throwers, who used their core muscles while aiming to knock down bowling pins.

Sonna Pohlson picks up bowling pins and rubber balls with her students following the human catapult game

In other games, students built their own obstacle courses and used their own shadows to move through a video and avoid being knocked over by flying objects.

Ahmir’s excitement is what teachers hoped for during the new, week-long learning experience created by Andrea Donovan, who is in her first year as a K-2 physical education teacher and her 17th at Godfrey-Lee.

Her collaborative partner is Sonna Pohlson, a first year K-5 STEAM teacher who previously spent 27 years teaching sixth grade science.

“Overall, it was a success,” Donovan said. “Students were engaged, enjoyed the change and are asking for more of these activities. We will definitely continue this collaboration and tweak as needed.”

Donovan said the idea came from a Family STEAM Night last fall that was coordinated by Sarah Wood, district technology and media integration specialist.

“We know at first that those two areas aren’t always paired together, but there is so much potential,” Wood said.

Donovan said the goal is to create builders, engineers and life-long  physical fitness buffs by introducing unique ways to keep fit and create while doing it.

Pohlson listed benefits for students including teamwork, problem-solving, engineering, design and competition — and “winning and losing – being gracious at both.”

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Steam and PE collaborative

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Cris Greer
For more than three decades, Cris Greer has been a wordsmith, working in the fields of journalism, advertising and marketing. Much of the past decade, he helped grow the MLive Statewide High School Sports desk as a supervisor, editor and reporter, which included eight newspapers in Michigan and mlive.com. Cris also was a freelancer for The Grand Rapids Press, The Advance and On the Town magazine for many years. A good portion of his early career was spent building and managing the copywriting team in the advertising department at Meijer, Inc., where he oversaw copywriting for print ads, mailers, brochures, signage, several dozen in-house magazines per year and much more. Read Cris's full bio or email Cris.

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