Community connections run deep at Seedlings Educators Collaborative, and not just for the classrooms taught by Seedlings Workshop alums! Since many of the Seedlings staff live and work in the New Haven area, there are always chances of running into someone, as was the case this spring when St. Thomas Day School fourth grade teacher Maria Freda ran into SEC director Judy Cuthbertson.  That chance encounter yielded the following note,  which we wanted to share with you.


Dear Judy,
Great running into you today at Staples. It must have been fate because you have been on my mind.
Knowing that Seedlings Summer 2017 was kicking off soon, I knew that I just had to share the many ways Seedlings and STEAM influenced my math curriculum this past school year. I must mention that Janie Lange helped to support the marine biology component of the project. And it was Janie who suggested that I pass this experience on to you. I am so glad she did.
Teaching with objects and manipulatives is my catalyst for making lessons come alive. Hands-on dimensional learning, especially in fourth grade, transforms the classroom into a laboratory where curiosity percolates, imagination erupts, and solutions flow—making connections with young scientists, technicians, engineers, artists, and mathematicians. STEAM is the integrated power behind the learning. Here’s how it began in our classroom.

It’s a Leatherback Turtle Thing

Perhaps it started with one of my student’s love for turtles.  It might have been inspired by the origami talents of another. It could have stemmed from thinking outside the box due to a need to create a fun and exciting math lesson on proportions. But what I do know for sure is that before too long, the fourth graders had to make room for a full size 9 foot by 8 foot model of a Leatherback Turtle. 

Without a doubt, this turtle project went full STEAM ahead. It became a school-wide topic. So much so that a Town Hall meeting was scheduled as a way to share the project with all grades. Since STEAM reaches out beyond the classroom, the 4th grade decided that when the turtle was complete and waterproofed, they would present the turtle to their kindergarten buddies as a new addition to the K playground. 

I will let the pictures tell the story.

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Materials included lots of cardboard, newspaper, waterproofing spray, paint, styrofoam, duct tape, patience and lots of love.

One extraordinary moment was when one of the project managers recognized that STEAM does not happen without a TEAM. This insight was meant to emphasize how important it was was to work together. 

I hope you enjoy reading about the project as much as we enjoyed creating it. Please share this with everyone. Thank you again for your love of teaching. 

All good wishes for a successful Seedlings summer,