This summer I took many hours of “STEM” courses.It’s always been something I’ve loved to do in the classroom, but lost sight of a little bit in the past couple of years. STEM activities are those in which we try to incorporate combinations of science, technology, engineering, and math. A big part of this is allowing kids to develop plans, work in teams to devise a solution, to see some plans fail, and other succeed.
Being the second day of school, I wanted to go with a challenge that might be less intense, and pretty straightforward. I got the kids excited about it on Tuesday, and as soon as we had done our GoNoodle for the day, I started the challenge. This is the slide I presented to explain the challenge that they would complete with their “pod partners”:
Pretty simple directions…and very few questions were asked. They wanted to know if they had to use one person’s scissors and glue, or if they could each have their own. We took a couple minutes to talk about what people do when coming up with a design and working in groups, and they all said “Begin With the End in Mind,” and to make a plan. Once I passed out construction paper to all the groups and set the timer for 15 minutes, it was go time.
Below you can see some of the groups working on their chains:
It was so cool to see the approach each group was taking to make the longest chain, and ALL of their ideas made sense. Some groups even noticed that another group was having success, and changed their idea mid-way. We talked about how this isn’t “copying” someone, but acknowledging a good idea. Thomas Jefferson used columns in his architectural design, and columns are credited to the Ancient Greeks. After 15 minutes, time was up…and here were the results:
As you can see, there were some really close designs! We took the time to listen to each group’s explanation of their approach, have your child explain the approach his or her group took, and why?