Recently I was invited my Luke McLellan and his boys in the Outdoor Club to join them for a spelunking trip to share some geology knowledge during the trek. I was excited for the invitation and grateful for the opportunity. What could be more “STEAM” than combining adventure and science???
For our trip we headed to Sulphur Springs, Arkansas to the Old Spanish Treasure Cave. We started with an overall tour of the main path of the cave, talked about the geology of the cave and its structure, and about the history of the cave. Following that, we set up camp inside the cave and got ourselves prepared for a level of exploration our students had never experienced. We found ourselves far off the beaten path of the cave and we ducked, climbed, rolled, and crawled on our stomachs through most of the cave. These young men were challenged to complete every obstacle the cave threw at them, which took collaboration. No one could conquer the cave alone, they had to work within the group to make it back to our base camp.
What does this have to do with STEAM? I would counter with “what part of the experience ISN’T STEAM???” Our students had an experience that challenged their character and promoted personal growth, they crawled through the earth to experience layers of fossils over 300 million years old, they experienced geology firsthand, and they had to work together. They developed skills, they had an authentic experience, they collaborated, they had an interdisciplinary experience…..that’s STEAM.