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STEM & E3 - "Interdependence & Specialization"

STEM & E3 - "Interdependence & Specialization"

The 4th-grade course, Economics and Entrepreneurial Education (E3) has long been a hallmark of the Independence curriculum. Many people are familiar with the course for its "business sessions" sales events. But there is much more to the year-long class. Recently, 4th-grade teacher Ms. Sarah Gilmore, who leads the E3 course, introduced a unique cross-curricular economics unit. The topic was interdependence and specialization to help her students gain an understanding of the "how and why" we rely on each other in a global economy. 

First, the students read about members of the Jamestown settlement who nearly didn't survive because they worked as individuals. Then they learned about the Pilgrims who created a "Compact," an agreement about how to work interdependently. 

The students were placed in groups and told they were going to complete a STEM project to build model space capsules based on Katherine Johnson and her work at NASA. Before they began, they had to write a compact for their group with prompts such as: 

How will you make sure everyone takes part? Have their ideas been heard? How will the labor be divided? What will you do when disagreements come up? How will you make decisions? What are your incentives for working together? What are the consequences if someone doesn't take care of their part? Everything had to be agreed upon and signed.

Once the compact was finished, they completed their STEM project, put their compact into action, and then gathered as a class to test the student-created space capsules. 

Learn more about Mastering STEM at Independence