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Explore, Investigate and Grow: BCA Second Graders Explore the Science Mill Museum

BCA second graders spent the day exploring and investigating at the Science Mill Museum in Johnson City. They were able to participate in the learning lab entitled: Young Explorers: Forensics Fun. The class investigated how forensic scientists solve mysteries using various different types of evidence! Through hands-on activities, they discovered information about their fingerprints, teeth impressions, and hidden evidence in order to further understand scientific inquiry.

Bannockburn Christian Academy Study Forensics at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City Bannockburn Christian Academy Study Forensics at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 2 Bannockburn Christian Academy Study Forensics at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 3 Bannockburn Christian Academy Study Forensics at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 4 Bannockburn Christian Academy Study Forensics at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 5 Bannockburn Christian Academy Study Forensics at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 6

The museum offered exploration of STEM careers, hands on discovery and creative fun. We saw a 3D Movie: Bugs! A Rainforest Adventure that was filmed in the jungles of Borneo which featured over 40 insects. The students created an avatar to be scanned at each exhibit giving more information, interesting facts, and possible STEM careers.

Bannockburn Christian Academy Build, Program and Study at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City Bannockburn Christian Academy Build, Program and Study at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 2 Bannockburn Christian Academy Build, Program and Study at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 3 Bannockburn Christian Academy Build, Program and Study at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 4 Bannockburn Christian Academy Build, Program and Study at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 5 Bannockburn Christian Academy Build, Program and Study at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 6 Bannockburn Christian Academy Build, Program and Study at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 7 Bannockburn Christian Academy Build, Program and Study at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 8 Bannockburn Christian Academy Build, Program and Study at Science Mill Museum in Johnson City 9

In the days after our trip, the students may log in to use their avatar again at the Explorer Zone at The Explorer Zone offers fun games, science videos, and your favorite exhibits.

Bannockburn Christian Academy play Tug-of-War on the Giant Lever at the Science Mill Museum in Johnson City

Overall, a very successful trip which hopefully inspired some future scientists!

~ Mary Ellen Erwin, 2nd Grade Teacher

Learning Through Exploration

Throughout the year, our 1st grade students have had many opportunities to learn through exploration. Children love to explore their world around them and to make connections from what they are learning about, to the real world.

I was reminded of this, as we have been learning about Force and Motion last week and this week. First, students learned about how objects move, by force, which is the pushing or pulling of an object. Students were given a ball and challenged to explore different ways, with their partner, to move their ball and record it. Then they loved sharing their findings with their friends!

We then explored the force of gravity by building marble mazes and watching the marble travel from a higher position to a lower position. There were 3 different types of mazes to explore with. We then built our own ramps with blocks and tubes and experimented with what may happen when we change the incline of the ramp. They explored the question, “Do the cars travel faster or slower?”

Brady Donovan Marble Maze Mackenzie & Clayton Manolo and Daniel Maureen and Brownlee Pierson and Riley Riley & Pierson Marble Maze

The students also enjoyed exploring the force of magnetism. They tried out different kinds of magnets with different kinds of materials to see which items were magnetic. They also explored how same poles repel and opposite poles attract.

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We culminated our Force and Motion unit with an Egg Drop Experiment, where students and their parents created a safety box for an egg, so that it won’t crack when dropped from the top of the playground.

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Our 1st graders loved learning about Force and Motion, through hands-on exploration!

– Melissa Davis, First Grade Teacher

“I See, I Think, I Wonder” : A Lesson in Engaging Students Where They Are

BCA Students

About a month ago, while we were on the playground, our students became fascinated with collecting rocks. Day by day, students would run up to the teachers on the playground asking, “What kind of rock do you think this is?” This started a great discussion about rocks, geodes, minerals, and dinosaur bones. A few students emerged as “the dinosaur experts” and when a student found a rock that they thought was a bone, they would scurry off to find the expert and ask their opinion. (In case you were wondering, according to our kindergarten experts, we definitely have Tyrannosaurus Rex bones all over the playground. 😉 )

This went on for several weeks and our rock collectors grew in numbers. It seemed as if each day another student was discovering beautiful rocks to bring in to the classroom and thus began our rock inquiry. I cleared off our “math table” and students started adding rocks to the table. I placed a few scales, magnifying glasses, sorting circles, rock books, pictures, measuring tape, and clipboards on the table, and the table has been full of scientists investigating our rock collection.

Bannockburn Christian Academy Studying RocksScreen Shot 2016-03-10 at 6.57.21 PM

I also displayed my rock book collection in our classroom library.

Rock Book Collection

During guided reading, my young learners were full of questions so we took out our agates and practiced writing and using adjectives by creating a list of words that described them. Then we read an informational text that I wrote for them.

Studying Notes on Rocks

Studying Rocks by Reading

Studying Rocks by Reading and Loving It!

My students came up with so many wonders and questions about how rocks were formed and began researching this on their own! They would get books from our library and share facts with their friends. They also wrote about what they were learning.

During our read aloud time, I made sure I chose books that would answer some of my students’ questions about how rocks were formed. We also watched a few Youtube videos. This was one of their favorite videos (click here to watch)

After watching a few videos and reading a couple of books, we created an “I see, I think, I wonder” chart. To do this, I gave my students Sharpies and Post It notes and my students got to work.

Writing I Think Notes

As they were working, I projected an image of a volcano on my whiteboard.

Displaying Volcanoes on a Whiteboard

After they finished a Post It Note, they placed it on the anchor chart and got to work on writing a new one.

Studying Volcanoes

At the end of the activity, our chart looked like this.

Volcanoes Chart

Many of the “wonders” included questions on HOW and WHY volcanoes blow up. So, we had to go outside to learn more about this.

I partnered my students up and gave each group a funnel, baking soda, and an empty water bottle. 

Experimenting with Baking Soda

They worked together to add the baking soda to their bottle, and then used our playground pebbles to “hide” the bottle to make it look like a real volcano.

Some of the baking soda got stuck going down the funnel, but my scientists quickly fixed the problem.

Scientist Fixing the Problem

After the finishing touches were put in place, we prepared for an eruption!

Preparing for the Eruption

Students added our vinegar mixture to their volcanoes and watched in anticipation. They ooooohed and aaaaaaahed over the eruptions and eagerly discussed why they thought volcanoes erupt!

Volcanic Eruption 1

Volcanic Eruption2

The next day, my students began documenting what they were learning. Some of my students chose to do this using clay.

Making a Volcano

“I am making a cinder cone volcano.”

Cinder Volcano Cone


“Look, mine looks just like this one in the book. I want to make sure I get the top just right.”

Volcano Making

Other students documented what they were learning by making extra large posters in small groups.

Volcano Posters

This encouraged collaboration and teamwork. I was very proud of how well my students handled this task!

Volcano Posters

“Miss Smith, this is a cutaway painting. We are showing the inside of the volcano. “

My students are still hard at work on these art projects and are now at the stage where we are labeling them and writing out teaching points so that others can learn about what they are making.

To continue helping my students answer their wonders, we read the book, Rocks: Hard, Soft, Smooth, and Rough. This book has taught us SO much and is always in the hand of a student when they are in the book corner!

I stopped reading after we read the two pages about sedimentary rocks and showed my students a few pictures to help them better understand. We then created a “craft” to better illustrate that sedimentary rocks are made up of layers.  To do this, I bought 7 jars of colored sand from Michaels. (If you ever need art materials, I HIGHLY recommend them! They always help me out with coupons and teacher discounts! This last shopping trip I saved over $35 thanks to the kindness of the checkout lady!)

I gave each student a clear plastic cup and they got to work making layers out of the different colored sand.

Experimenting with Layers

This activity really helped them learn the word “layer” as they practiced using it over and over. 

More Experimenting with Layers

They carefully scooped each color on top of the previous one making sure that they could no longer see any of the previous color.  They loved checking out their sedimentary rocks throughout the process.

Examining Layers of Colors

When they got picked up, they could hardly contain all that they had done that day! 

Excited to Share their Progress

We are still knee-deep in our inquiry, but I wanted to share part one of what we have been up to! My students are LOVING this unit especially because it means frequent trips outside to find, explore, and discover new types of rocks!

Exploring Their World

If you are interested in any of these activities, lessons, posters, and more, feel free to check out my Rocks and Geode pack available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can get it HERE!

Come back soon to read about Part Two!! (Monday we are cracking open geodes!!)

This blog post contains an affiliate link for your convenience. 

– Kristen Smith, Kindergarten

Science in Pre-K

In the classroom, students participate in a weekly science or STEM activity. Pre-K students bring so much curiosity and wonder to the classroom setting.  All a teacher needs is capitalize on these characteristics to make science learning come alive every day.  This time of the week is our absolute favorite.

A couple of weeks ago we went on a Fall Scavenger Hunt around the Academy campus.  We were looking for all sorts of nature items including acorns, trees, grass, squirrels, birds, ants, etc…  Each student had their own clipboard, pencil, and check off sheet.  The children felt so important and special. They felt like real scientists! This was such a great opportunity for meaningful conversations and observations to take place. They were engaged and wide-eyed exploring the world around them and searching for the items on their check lists.

After our scavenger hunt adventure we returned to the classroom to discuss and share what types of nature items we observed and what we could not find. For example, some saw butterflies but couldn’t find a bird.  All in all it was a great experience to explore, discover and analyze.

Laura Gail Ellis, Pre-Kindergarten

Our Latest STEM/STEAM Activity

Many studies have found that current graduates are lacking the essential skills they need to problem solve. For this reason, there has been a large push to incorporate more “STEAM” activities in our classrooms. As many of you know, S.T.E.A.M stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

According to the article found in “Education Week” titled: STEM vs. STEAM do the arts really belong? They referenced a 2014 study published by the America Society for Engineering Education identifying several characteristics of quality STEM programs:

  1. The context is motivating, engaging, and real-world.
  2. Students integrate and apply meaningful and important mathematics and science content.
  3. Teaching methods are inquiry-based and student-centered.
  4. Students engage in solving engineering challenges using an engineering design process.
  5. Teamwork and communications are a major focus. Throughout the program, students have the freedom to think critically, creatively, and innovatively, as well as opportunities to fail and try again in safe environments.

However, there has now been a push to incorporate “art” into the acronym. (I am all for this!) In fact, just this past week my class completed our first STEAM activity of the year and it was a HUGE success. We have been studying the “temperate deciduous” forest and as a way to incorporate STEM/STEAM into my classroom, we dedicated the day Friday to creating a 3-D forest. My students planned the whole entire forest. I brought in the top of a very large box and my students collaborated about how they should make our forest and what they wanted to add to it. During our guided reading center rotations, instead of reading on Friday my groups looked closely at our forest books and created each area of our forest.

The first group created the “forest floor.” They mixed their perfect shades of green and decided that they needed to add a stream so that the forest animals had water to drink.

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After they finished the forest floor, we regrouped on the carpet. The forest floor “team” explained their thought process to the class and the class applauded their efforts. Then the second group was up. Their job was to paint and design the sky. They decided that it was a beautiful day and that their blue had to be lighter than the stream.

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Again, we regrouped and the “sky team” explained the work that they added to our forest. The next group’s job was to paint and create the trees. We used recycled toilet paper and paper towel rolls for this. The group looked through a few of our forest books and wanted to add “Oak, Maple, and Birch” trees to the forest.

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As we waited for the paint to dry, we read another forest book and the class decided that the forest was an autumn forest and that the leaves on the trees should be red, green, yellow, and orange. Each child created their own foliage by drawing, cutting, and painting it.

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Then each child came up to our forest box and showed me where to place their tree trunk. (I glued the trees in place using a hot glue gun.) The though process of each added tree was remarkable. My students said things like, “I think all the Birch trees should be together.”


“This tree needs to go right here because a forest is a place where trees grow close together.”


“The tree with the owl hole needs to go here so the owl can listen for her prey!”


“This oak tree will drop acorns for the squirrels to eat!”


My students worked SO nicely together during this process and were so very proud of their hard work. In fact, at the end of the day our principal came in and my class proudly explained our forest to her. She was more than impressed when they told her they made a “deciduous forest in the fall.” She asked them great questions and each child was able to answer and explain our collaborative thought process. In fact, at the end of the day, many students brought their parents back into the classroom to show their parents our forest.

By doing this STEAM activity, my class was able to use what they had been learning about forests in a tangible, authentic way. It was 100% made and planned by my students with very little help from me. They communicated beautifully throughout the whole process and took great pride in what they created as a class. One parent after school told me, “My daughter was so proud to point out each piece of the project telling me who made each item!” I love that it became more than just an “I made this” and rather a “WE” created this together!

Next week we will use modeling clay to create our own animals to live in our habitat!

Kristen Smith, Kindergarten

Instructions for Life

Remember the test your teacher gave in which you had a long list of activities to complete in only three minutes? And then when the time was up, the teacher announced that the whole class failed? My fourth grade scholars took it, and every single one learned a valuable lesson about following directions. At the beginning of the test, they were told to read everything before answering anything, and then at the bottom of the test it said to only complete numbers one and two (read everything first and put name on paper). None of them got that far because they were too busy completing the activities they didn’t have to do!

Well, in case you cannot relate to that, everyone has a story of trying to put something together without the instructions, yes? Or perhaps you had the directions and refused to use them? No, I’ve never done that! My thoughts immediately jump to furniture from IKEA… it doesn’t come assembled as seen in the catalog or viewed in the black hole, I mean, store (ha ha). Navigating the instructions can make you want to jump ship, literally.

Thankfully, our God doesn’t make following directions that difficult. He neither leaves us without, nor does He make them confusing. My fourth graders learned this lesson in Bible class with a bunch of Legos. (Wait, what? Legos in Bible class?? Teaching a class of all fourth-grade students might seem daunting to some, but it’s also really rewarding and fun!) I gave the scholars matching sets of Legos and asked them to build a shipping tanker. Both groups had a picture, but only one group had instructions. I asked them to match the pictures as closely as possible.

Photo of “mission”:


Seems simple enough, right?

The group without instructions came up with this:

Granted, these students are self-professed Lego “Master Builders” and stated they made “modifications.”


The group with step-by-step instructions may not have built it exactly to specifications, but they were a LOT closer…


The point of the lesson in class that day was that having the instructions and the correct tools makes every task easier, and not having directions makes everything harder. (The no-instructions team still disputed this heavily, which then turned into a lesson of following God’s Way or our own way.)

Even though we have examples to follow, sometimes we might feel like we are still fourth graders when it comes to following God’s Instruction Manual, the Bible. Having the assembly instructions is vital, regardless of one’s ability to visualize and put things together! In 2 Timothy 3:16, God tells us His Word is useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” We are weekly revisiting the importance of slowing down, re-reading the instructions, using the correct tools and completing our tasks. We are not perfect, but we are in training to live God’s Way. By looking to God’s Word, the Bible, every day, we can know we are living out the will of God and one day, the reward in heaven will be hearing, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

By Shannon Johnson, 4th Grade


Exploring with Our Five Senses

This was a fantastic week in first grade! We finished our second week’s unit on Exploring with Our Five Senses with exploring the senses of smell, touch and hearing. For sense of smell, we analyzed a series of scented jars with fragrances such as cinnamon, vinegar, garlic, and vanilla. My first grade scholars had to guess and describe the smells.

Next we used a bag of “feely” items to help us explore our sense of touch. During this activity, students were able to feel a variety of items, describe these items, and finally, guess the identity of each item.

Last, we discussed our sense of hearing by examining different musical instruments such as a ukulele, egg shaker, and hand drum. Everyone was amazed at how the instrument’s vibrations produced sound waves we could actually hear!


To build on our sense of hearing discussion, we incorporated a culminating STEM activity – STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. My students used creativity and problem solving skills to invent an instrument that uses vibration to produce sound.

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Each student was given a variety of recyclable materials such as bottles, boxes, plastic tubs, cans, and paper towel tubes. Students were given the opportunity to attach other unique items with string, tape, or rubber bands. At the end of our STEM activity, students gave their instrument a name and presented their creation to the class.


As a teacher, I was so proud of their creativity with developing original instrument designs, along with their tenacity to solve problems by making changes and improvements.  One could easily see how proud they were of their creations as well!


Melissa Davis, 1st Grade

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