The whole school was issued a challenge to create a randomly selected letter from the words MAKER SPACE. The first grade was drawn for the letter K. We began our journey by researching words that began with the letter K in children’s dictionaries. That’s right, we set out to learn not only about our challenge but also, how to use an old fashioned dictionary. First graders worked in groups to find words that would inspire the design of our letter. After a huge brainstorm session, the students chose the word knowledge. They wanted the letter to represent the knowledge we gain in our Maker Space through STEM learning.
The students then brainstormed materials that we would need to create our letter. They decided on gears and circuit boards to represent our brains and again, the knowledge we gain. Within their idea they also issued a challenge to their teacher. How could I help these amazing ideas come to life? They wanted the gears to work and turn so, I set out to find a way to help them realize their vision. We found gear magnets with a motor and with the help of one of our fantastic parents, circuit boards that were cut to the student specifications. After more research and learning, we found that we would need galvanized sheet metal for our letter K to work with our magnets. I then learned how to cut sheet metal!
All materials were prepared and ready for assembly! The metal was traced on the chalk board for safety reasons and every student was given the opportunity to experiment with the design and materials. The entire class collaborated on what worked in their personal design and came up with our final design on the metal K. I was truly blown away by the students project! I could never have imagined all the learning lessons, collaboration, and creativity that resulted from this amazing challenge. Please look for all the phenomenal letters created by the students coming soon to the SJS Maker Space.
Our second Flex Day in first grade was spent learning about Constitution Day. We learned all about the history behind this day, the meaning and importance of “We the People”, the men involved, and why they took action. We discussed how this document has become a symbol of our country. After learning all of this very valuable information, we turned our attention to the idea that 55 men wanted change. These men then came together with all of their different ideas and worked to put them into one document. We had previously talked about collaboration but, the idea that all of these men had used it so many years ago was amazing to the students. From here our challenge was born. The first graders were asked to individually design a new symbol for our school that would represent what they believed we stand for. Many great ideas took shape but, this was not the real challenge. They were then paired with another student and told that they must combine their two ideas into one while using elements from both designs. Once students arrived at one collaborative design, they were then able to build their symbol. In this post, you will not see any finished products because our true focus was on communication and collaboration in the past as well as in the present.
First grade had an amazing first Flex day filled with learning about Growth Mindset. They learned about what it takes to have a growth mindset everyday with posters, coloring pages, activities, and finished by reading Your Fantastic Elastic Brain. After a morning of learning all about our new mindset, we spent the afternoon putting it to the test. Our challenge was from Rapunzel, in which we had to build Rapunzel and Prince Rider a new tower to live in that would keep them safe. The requirements for the challenge were that it must be one foot tall, it must fit our Lego people in it to represent the characters, only one medium may be used for the tower, and it must have a flag on top made from a different medium. As we started the challenge, many towers began to fall. This created the perfect opportunity to put their Growth Mindset to work. Not one single student became upset or gave up on the project! They all kept improving their ideas and structures until they were able to meet the challenge. I would call this first Flex Day a total success!