I have begun to work with individual classes on flex days on something called Genius Hour. This is a time where the students can work on their own projects based on their individual interests. Other times we may spend time researching topics that the students have shown interest in in the classroom, but cannot develop fully due to time restrictions. So far, most classes are in the brainstorming stage of this process. Based on some of the topics that came up, I can’t wait to see how these ideas develop into projects!
There are many great projects in the works right now. Please take some time to talk with your student about these or visit the individual class websites to see what each grade is currently working on.
On Friday the students of Saint Joseph Parish School participated in their first flex day. The day was built around two key concepts. The first was to answer the driving question, “Why is is important for me to celebrate the International Day of Peace?” All classes spent some of the morning discussing this question as well as participating in various activities that focused on this idea.
The second part of the day was devoted to the design cycle. The design cycle, or engineering cycle, is the process the students will utilize in the building or creating of their STEM projects. The six steps they learned, ask, imagine/research, plan, create, improve, and communicate were practiced in the classroom in many different ways.
Another element introduced on flex day was STEM lab. Students in kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 can use this time to practice the design cycle or learn further about topics that interest them. The students in grade 2 were challenged to build a freestanding tower that was at least 18 inches tall. Each of the three different groups were provided different building materials. After attempting and failing the students concluded that they needed to have a “bottom” or base to their structure. They were then successful redesigning their structures to meet the challenge. They also concluded that it was easier to build with “bendable” materials like pipe cleaners.
In kindergarten and grade 1 the students worked individually to build the longest possible paper chain using only 1 piece of paper. The students concluded that you need to cut skinny strips to make the chain longer. The longest chain built in kindergarten was 38inches long. The longest chain build in first grade was 56 inches long.