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STEAM Activities for Children

Wonder Lab was co-founded in 2016 by Dr. Susan Rauchwerk, Dr. Amy Mertl, and Dr. Nicole Weber, who serve as the executive director, operations director, and research director, respectively. WonderLab is a multi-layered, multi-dimensional learning environment where students and faculty field-test and practice inclusive, trans-disciplinary theories in education and citizen science. We employ up to twelve Lesley students each semester. Staff in the program engage in rigorous documentation and reflection, with a focus on individualized supports for engagement and equitable access to learning.

WonderLab provides research-based opportunities that equip Lesley students with the knowledge, skills and dispositions they need to implement inclusive education in schools and other educational settings. 

WonderLab serves as a site where Lesley undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students can conduct field-based assignments, early field experience, and specialized practicum. WonderLab also serves as a research site for professors and their classes. Currently, six professors from special education, literacy, science, social studies, and arts education use the WonderLab with their classes. The largest program within the WonderLab is our one-room-schoolhouse model for children in grades 1-6. 

We are located in an urban setting conveniently accessed via bus, train, commuter rail, and car. We recruit a diversity of children, provide after school bus pick-up to accommodate working families, and provide financial support to those in need. We also provide a Saturday program for African American girls in grades 1-5 called STEAM Beans, a Math Circle for girls in grades 6-8, and greenspace education to Cambridge Early Start and kindergarten classes. Activities take place in the new WonderLab classroom in Lesley’s University Hall, science labs, and green spaces in a variety of urban settings. Read more about WonderLab.

Research Component

The WonderLab project's primary goals are to inform and guide teacher education in inquiry-based science education, and to gather evidence to capture learning through critical exploration. As part of this process, WonderLab directors are hoping to better understand how participation in informal STEAM learning at Lesley impacts students’ learning, including: (1) their understanding of and interest in science and STEAM; (2) their sense of place and environmental awareness; (3) their development of critical thinking skills in STEAM contexts. We are in the process of writing up our first research findings. 

students working with lily pads
WonderLab exploration

Selected Program Highlights

After-School Programs

  • Alewife Brook Stream Study Field Trip
  • Chromatography Leaf experiment and artistic data representation
  • Planting garlic in Lesley Doble Campus Garden and weeding beds
  • Convection currents lab and movement data representation
  • Water studies; cohesion, adhesion, surface tension
  • Ant research; longitudinal study, mapping out data collection sites, collection ant samples, identifying ants, learning about ant behaviors and ant colonies
  • Research/evaluation expressed through stop motion animation videos
  • Tree observation longitudinal study, data expressed in journals, visual art, and movement scores
  • Mass Audubon soil program
  • Altered Field Journals; field journals made from recycled books
  • Rube Goldberg machine creation
  • Visit Mt. Auburn Cemetery once a month to support citizen science research
  • Plant in Lesley organic garden
  • Science Methods classes conducting hands-on field-work with children

Other Activities 

  • STEAM Beans, supported by Lesley University, is a unique STEAM program designed by Graduate School of Education alumna Sheila Johnson. The unique curriculum developed for African American girls in grades 1-5 meets two Saturdays each month during the academic year.
  • WonderLab STEAM Exploration Party: hands-on explorations with plants, animals, water, rocks, engineering design, and technology.
  • Climate Cafe: families learn more about climate change through a panel presentation by children in grades 1-6, followed by an open discussion with Massachusetts Audubon Society and Lesley University climate scientists and educators.
  • STEAM Beans and the Hidden Figure DreamsCelebration of  modern day “black girl magic” as elementary age black girls facilitate an exploratory learning experience in STEAM. This scholar led activity is NASA’s Hidden Figures dream as it places students at the forefront of real world, culturally relevant, project-based learning.
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