In collaboration with STEAM, TAG students have been able to expand their knowledge of the heart by participating in several hands-on activities. They have been able to learn not only about the functions of the heart but also what it means to "serve others with heart."
University Park Elementary students in Kayla Myers’ third-grade explorations class were just one of the five classes from around HPISD that participated in the heart unit. Students engaged in the dissection of a pig heart led by Baylor doctors while learning about the circulatory system. The unit also focused on how to maintain heart health. HPISD Director of Food Services Lynn Prichard spoke to the class about the fundamental role food plays in maintaining a healthy body.
STEAM initiatives help take the unit one step further by partnering with Carter Blood Care. During the past four years, students have presented research and advertising to help encourage individuals to donate blood to the organization as part of the heart unit lesson. It is estimated that more than 1,100 lives have been saved through the students' efforts. Elementary STEAM Instructional Coach Ashley Jones emphasized the importance of students receiving real-world experience in the medical field. She stated, “Giving students a hands-on in-person learning component and applying what they have studied in the classroom is truly what STEAM is all about. Encouraging HPISD’s youngest learners to think about solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.”
The blood drive also presents the opportunity to make connections to the greater school community by allowing parents and teachers to impact those most in need during the holiday season by donating blood. University Park English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher Priscilla Hazen believes that the Carter Blood Care component of the lesson exemplifies the district’s motto of “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.”
Hazen reflected, “There is more to it than simply learning about the heart. Students are also learning about what it means to be giving of the heart.”