GSSM Elementary Programs

GSSM Elementary offers science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) programs for students in grades 3 through 5.

The high-quality interactive GSSM Elementary learning experiences are standards-based, model effective teaching practices, and deepen students' understanding of STEAM topics.

GSSM Elementary Fast Facts

  • Provides enriching STEAM experiences to elementary students in SC
  • Makes STEAM opportunities available to all students in SC
  • Supports teachers in delivering content aligned with the SC science and mathematics curriculum standards and the Next Generation Science Standards
  • Delivers inquiry-based learning opportunities for students to explore the fields of STEAM
  • Inspires student interest in STEAM and builds student confidence in STEAM fields

STEAM Bus

“The inspirational things that we see and touch as children are a big part of who we become as adults.  Those early experiences, especially the tangible ones, plant the seeds of what is possible in our young minds.  The Byerly Foundation believes in the importance of these types of experiences and is proud to have played a role in this wonderful GSSM initiative”- Bob Brown, The Byerly Foundation Board of Trustees Chair.

Through a generous donation from the Byerly Foundation, GSSM converted a 14-passenger bus into a mobile science lab that serves students in grades 3 through 5 throughout the state of South Carolina. The STEAM Bus is equipped with equipment and materials such as a YuMi robot, laptops, and more for students to complete interactive activities. 

Traveling to SC elementary schools, the STEAM Bus provides standards-based, hands-on lessons led by a GSSM instructor. During their visit, elementary students will explore and participate in a variety of inquiry-driven activities and projects related to STEAM topics, including engineering, chemistry, color, and electronics. Each lesson lasts approximately one hour and all necessary materials are provided by GSSM. Teachers are encouraged to accompany their students during their time on the STEAM Bus.

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Current Lessons

Discovering Circuits (Gr 3)

Students work in pairs to build several simple circuits and explore electricity using Snap Circuits kits.

Electric Circuit Greeting Cards (Gr 3-5)

Students explore how electricity moves through a circuit, using different materials to create a card with an LED and functional switch.

Light & Color (Gr 4)

Students explore the colored components of white light and how colored light differs from pigmented paints.

Caesar Cipher Cryptography (Gr 4-5)

Students explore the idea of encryption and privacy in the age of technology by learning how to make and break codes.

Biomedical Engineering - Protect that Pill! (Gr 5)

Students reinforce their knowledge of the digestive system and explore the concept of simulation by developing and testing a pill coating that can withstand the churning actions and acidic environment found in the stomach.

Ecosystem Modeling (Gr 5)

Students investigate ecosystem dynamics by using a game of tag to model the flow of energy between organisms and the impact of limiting factors. An alternative "ecosystem weaving" lesson can be used in the event of inclement weather or to meet accessibility needs.

Rockets in Motion (Gr 5)

Students build paper rockets around film canisters "engines" and use chemistry to understand Newton's third law of motion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a fee to participate in this program?

No, the STEAM Bus is offered free to SC schools thanks to generous donations made through the Byerly Foundation.

What grade levels does the STEAM Bus serve?

Our STEAM Bus lessons serve 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students and teachers. Not every lesson is suitable for every grade level due to differences in curriculum standards and understanding. However, some lessons may be adaptable for multiple grade levels. Current lessons and the recommended grade levels are listed above. If you have further questions on our offerings, please contact Mrs. Barbara Urban.

How long are the lessons?

Most of our STEAM Bus lessons last for one hour. Some lessons may be shortened to accommodate your school's scheduling needs, but we do require a minimum of 45 minutes to work with your students.

Do students travel on the bus?

No, the bus will be parked at the elementary school and remain stationary while students visit the bus during their assigned time.

Does my school need to provide teachers or chaperones for students on the bus?

While GSSM instructors will lead the lesson and provide supervision for participating students, we do request that students be accompanied by one familiar adult during their visit. Interested teachers, administrators, or parent volunteers are all welcome to join the fun!

How do I schedule a STEAM Bus visit for my school?

Complete this form to request a STEAM Bus visit. A program coordinator will be in touch to confirm your school's needs after your request is submitted. ​​

Explore Series

The GSSM Elementary Explore series uses Interactive Video Vignettes (IVVs) that can be paired with hands-on Explore kits. These lessons are geared towards students in grades 3 through 5. Students test their understanding of the world through a hands-on, minds-on approach to STEAM learning. Students may find themselves designing their own experiment, directing a GSSM instructor through an investigation, or creating models of natural phenomena. At the end of each lesson, students will receive a certificate showing their work from the IVV session. They will have the option to save or print the image to upload proof of their work via email or a virtual learning platform.

These lessons are adaptable to each school’s instructional needs and can be used virtually, in person, or in a hybrid model. The lessons provide in-module support for asynchronous investigations and plenty of opportunities for instructors to customize the module pathways for classroom enrichment. Lessons are led by a GSSM Outreach Center instructor and may feature young student helpers.

Each Explore lesson includes an interactive video lesson hosted on the GSSM website, a teacher lesson guide, and any appropriate student handouts. There is also a printable science journal provided in the lesson.

For schools in Darlington county a supply kit and a printed science journal for each student are available by request.

For schools outside of Darlington county a list of optional supplies is included in the teacher’s guide. The supply kits are not available.

Request a Lesson

If you have received a lesson and need additional support, please contact us.

Current Lessons

Rockets (Gr 5)

With the guidance of a GSSM instructor and their Explore kits, students will build their own alka seltzer rockets and investigate the chemical reaction that launches them into the air. Students will develop an understanding of the core principles of experimental design, learn to use a timer to collect data, and even create and interpret a simple bar graph. This lesson may serve as an introduction to Newton’s third law of motion for fifth graders. Multiple exit points allow teachers to adapt the lesson to best meet the needs of their students and learning environments.

This lesson is designed to meet SC standards for 5th grade students.

Separating Mixtures (Gr 5)

With the guidance of a GSSM instructor and their Explore kits, students will separate a complex mixture of sand, beads, and assorted balls using different tools and techniques. Students will develop an understanding of the engineering process, efficiency, and the physical properties of matter, including density. This lesson challenges students to think creatively as they test and refine their plans to separate the mixture into its components. Finally, students will communicate and reflect on their results with the use of a flow chart. Explore: Separating Mixtures may serve as an introduction to different physical properties of matter or as an engineering challenge.

This lesson is designed to meet SC standards for 5th grade students.

Temperature and Weather (Gr 4)

With the guidance of a GSSM instructor and the materials in their Explore kits, students will investigate temperature. Through the course of the investigation, students will learn to read a thermometer, reinforce their understanding of the water cycle, and learn about how humidity and air pressure are related to air temperature. Students completing the hands-on component will create a model of the water cycle, measure dew point, and learn how to start their own weather journal. Multiple exit points allow teachers to adapt the lesson to best support their students and learning environments.

This lesson is designed to meet SC content standards for 4th grade students. In addition, the lesson reinforces 3rd grade content standards related to the states of matter.

Habitats (Gr 3)

With the guidance of a GSSM instructor and the materials in their Explore kits, students will investigate the four essential needs of all organisms and test the choices of terrestrial isopods to determine their ideal habitat conditions. Through the course of the investigation, students will analyze data from recorded animal choice studies and design an experiment to test their own experimental questions related to the habitats of wild birds. In this lesson students will be constructing a bird feeder using a popsicle stick, vegetable shortening and different mediums of bird food. This lesson is easily adapted for classroom use or distance learning. Multiple exit points allow teachers to adapt the lesson to best suit their students and learning environments.

This lesson is designed to meet SC content standards for 3rd grade students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a fee to receive the Explore lessons?

No, the Explore series is offered free to anyone. Kits material are only available to educators in Darlington county. An optional supply list will be included in the teacher’s guide, but materials are unnecessary to complete the lessons.

How do I get the Explore material kits?

At this time kits can only be provided to educators in Darlington county. However, all Explore lessons can be completed without the kit materials by following along with the videos. If you wish to provide your students with the materials, a list of supplies is included in each teacher guide.

Are the lessons safe?

Yes, all lessons are designed to be safely completed by the appropriate age group. Any safety concerns are noted in the videos and teacher guide.

Will this link work through my school's firewalls?

All Explore IVVs are hosted on the GSSM website, not through third parties (such as YouTube). If you and your students can see this website on your school's devices and network, then you should be able to access the videos. We highly recommend testing this out before assigning an Explore lesson. Please contact us if you have any trouble accessing the IVVs.

Can students complete Explore lessons without adult guidance?

Yes!  Explore lessons are designed with students in mind - no adults required. IVVs guide students through each lesson and give feedback based on student responses. However, some extension tips and activities encourage adult guidance.

Can I assign Explore lessons to virtual students or students doing eLearning?

Yes!  Explore lessons are designed with students in mind - no adults required. IVVs guide students through each lesson and give feedback based on student responses. Explore lessons encourage content mastery and critical thinking. At the end of each IVV, students will see a certificate showing their completed work. They will have the option to save or print the image to upload proof of their work via email or a virtual learning platform. The certificate shows the answers they have submitted to the IVV throughout the lesson.

What if I have questions about the lesson content or material substitutions?

Please contact Ms. Jordan Bailey for additional help and support after receiving an Explore link.

Will you spam me if I sign up for an Explore lesson?

No, you will only receive emails with more information about the lessons that you have requested. We will ask you to complete a feedback survey after using the lesson with your students. This helps us understand how students and educators are using the material. You may choose to join our mailing list if you would like to learn more about other programs and events.