Grade 2

…preparing young students for careers that don’t even exist yet!

Science – Technology – Engineering – Mathematics

stem graphpaper

S.T.E.M. Education is a federal initiative:

(1) to secure America’s leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; and, (2) to identify promising strategies for strengthening the education that leads to S.T.E.M. careers.


Allendale Columbia Lower School S.T.E.M. Teachers: 


Donna Chaback


Sue Sorrentino






CURRENT S.T.E.M. Units of Study 2018-19:               *Unit Highlights & Photos BELOW

  1. Simple Machines: building the foundations of effort, work and force – completed
    • Foundational concepts of simple machines:
      • Simplify tasks such as lifting, pulling, and pushing objects
      • Allows people to exert less energy and effort to accomplish tasks
      • Reduces the amount of force needed to move objects or change direction or distance of force required
    • Hands on labs for constructing models and applying concepts learned:
      • 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Class Levers
      • Pulley Systems + Block & Tackle
      • Incline Planes
      • Wedges
      • Wheels, Gears, and Axles
  2. Life Science Unit: “Fungus Among Us” – completed
    • The Scientific Method
    • Focus on Mushrooms:
      • History, Parts of a Mushroom, How Mushrooms Grow, Farming Mushrooms, etc.
      • Unit & Lab Vocabulary: fungi/fungus, fruiting body, cap, veil, stalk, annulus, gills, spores, hyphae, mycellium
  3. Optics – current unit
    • Light can be used for communication
    • Visible light, wavelengths & parts, color, frequency
    • Luminous & non-luminous objects
    • Absorption and Reflection
    • Angles of Reflection


Below are highlights of some of our 2nd Grade, S.T.E.M. learning experiences throughout the years:

This webpage highlights some of our exciting Lower School S.T.E.M. learning experiences – including our current year programs, new programs in development and testing, as well as the units of study we typically provide our students. Collaborating with our numerous and global, collegiate and corporate partners, our S.T.E.M. programs continue to dynamically evolve each year with providing innovative and authentic learning experiences for our young students.

Optics / Photonics

With our years of experience in S.T.E.M. curriculum development and with Rochester, NY now designated the Photonics Hub of America, the Lower School S.T.E.M. Team has been requested to develop a comprehensive, grade-by-grade, Elementary Program in Optics. Working in collaboration with several university and corporate partners, we are excited to be engaging our Lower School S.T.E.M. students with actively field-testing our new Optics Programs, participating in our hands-on labs, and with also reporting out results and recommendations to corporate product development teams as well as, university level, Optics Departments – providing our students with authentic and relevant learning experiences!




Life Science Studies

…Unit of Study – Fungi and Mold Studies

  • Observations and Hands-on LABS
  • Data Collection
  • Anatomical Anagrams
  • Dichotomous Key
  • Amazing Mycorrhizae
  • Fungi Scavenger Hunt…





…Unit of Study – Heat absorption: Science Court Videos and Hands-on LABS

Science Ct_1


Students learn about heat absorption and color through hands-on activities and a lively courtroom drama:  an overheated I. M. Richman faints during a trivia contest.  Richman was wearing a dark shirt he had purchased from his opponent, who was wearing a white version of the exact same shirt.  Did the opponent dip the dark shirt in heat-emitting chemicals?   

Students work in cooperative teams, using the scientific method, to determine how light contains heat energy, how light colors reflect light and heat, how dark colors absorb light and heat, and how different materials absorb different amounts of heat.

Applied Sciences / Engineering / Programming

…Physical Science Unit – Constructing Simple Machines

Our second grade S.T.E.M. students work on constructing simple machines including: levers, pulley systems, wedges, inclined planes, and wheel & axle systems. Throughout their hands-on and problem solving activities, our students continue to explore and apply the concepts of effort, force, friction, load, motion, and distance. In addition, our S.T.E.M. students learn about, construct, and investigate the differences between first, second, and third class levers. Students also learn about the important function of the fulcrum as the pivot point for the effort and load. As our young students also discovered, first and second class levers let you move heavy loads with little effort, while third class levers take more effort but move loads a long distance.



Most exciting of all, students make relevant connections with identifying the many, real world applications for each of the simple machine systems they are currently studying. For instance, when constructing their first class lever, students easily connected a see-saw, and when constructing a pulley system, students shared their personal connections with using pulley systems for rock climbing, pulling window blinds open or closed, and so on. No matter the connections made, students come to understand that simple machines ultimately make work easier!


…Programming Unit: Kinderlogo

Students use programming commands to create drawings and diagrams including:

  • basic commands for programming forward, backward, left, right, or opposite with drawing lines and navigating angles;
  • pen-up and pen-down programming commands as well as programming simple geometric shapes
  • programming procedures and subroutines


Innovation Engineering Unit: Intro to LEGO WeDo Robotics

Designing, Constructing & Programming Interactive Structures & Smart Robots in 2nd Grade

Our second graders are introduced to the LEGO WeDo Robotics System with learning to design and build interactive structures and smart robots programmed with sensors and actuators. In this real world context, students are introduced to engineering design concepts and higher level programming. Students learn engineering principles and professional practices with learning correct vocabulary, terminology, and functionality of all structural and electronic components. For instance, students systematically learn about the different types of gears (8, 24, or 40-tooth/spur gears, crown gears, worm gears, etc.) and how they can function as driver, follower, or idler gears.








In partnership with Alfred State College, REVTOS (a renewable energy training system) was placed on the Allendale Columbia campus for a period of three months. The REVTOS System is comprised of a 30′ x 5′ solar panel and a 30′ high wind turbine with a remote monitoring and data logging box located in the Lower School S.T.E.M. Lab. Students in grades K through 5 took full advantage of this system being on our campus with completing a variety of solar and wind power experiments and data collection.

Second graders learned how the solar panels and the wind turbine are creating energy. To help further their learning, students constructed anemometers, and with counting how many times their reference spun around in one minute, the students were able to calculate the wind speed in feet per second. To expand their knowledge of solar power, students also performed various experiments to discover the differences between reflective and absorptive properties.


Students test the animometers they constructed for calculating wind speed in feet per second



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