Helping Hex Bug Find His Way

The third and fourth graders have been studying maps and cardinal directions.  So, in STEM lab, they were challenged to design a course for a Hex Bug to travel that followed a given set of directions.  The students worked in small groups to complete this challenge and were allowed to use available materials in the Makerspace.


Ancient Greece-Grade 7

The seventh grade has been studying ancient Greece in their Social Studies class, so we carried the theme into STEM lab this week.  The students first experimented with making paper columns.  They realized that a column with a round base distributed weight more evenly, so it was the most effective.  They used this knowledge to build columns of 3 oz Dixie cups to support the weight of a seventh grader.  After many attempts, the students got the hang of the challenge.  The fewest number of cups used to support the weight of a seventh grader was 5 cups.  The tallest column built to support the weight of someone in their group was ten layers of cups.  This is approximately 30 inches off the ground.

First Week Stem Lab

In the first STEM lab of the year the students explored our new Makerspace!  They learned about what tools and materials are available to them for use during design challenges.  At the end of the class the students were given some time to explore the other features of the room such as the Lego wall and the marble maze on the magnet wall.


Here are 10 fun facts about our new Makerspace!  Come see it in person at the Walk-Thru on Sunday, August 26th from 12:00-1:00.

Makerspace Fact #1

The SJS Makerspace is a space where students at all grade levels can share equipment, materials, and knowledge to create, plan, fail, learn, and revise products that individually they could not complete due to lack of resources, time, or space. It is an authentic way for students to demonstrate and build their understanding.

Makerspace Fact #2

The wall colors of the Makerspace were chosen to reflect the colors in the STEM logo.


Makerspace Fact #3

This Makerspace was funded completely by SJS parents, students, and staff.

Makerspace Fact #4

There are 132 storage bins housing a variety of materials in the Makerspace as well as 9 carts and other shelves.

Makerspace Fact #5

The Makerspace houses 3 carts that can be loaded with materials and taken to classrooms for use. This allows for up to four classrooms to utilize this resource at one time. These carts are also equipped with the same tools located at each of the 6 stations in the room.

Makerspace Fact #6

The creating of the Makerspace required 2 trips to IKEA, 3 trips to Sherwin Williams, 4 Amazon orders, 5 trips to Lowes, 6 coats of paint on the red wall, and hundreds of hours of labor.

Makerspace Fact #7

The students in grades K-8 will use the Makerspace once in every 5 day rotation for STEM lab. The classroom teachers can also utilize the space on flex days or when needed throughout the week.

Makerspace Fact #8

Aside from the 6 work stations, the SJS Makerspace has a Lego wall, magnet wall, and many bins and shelves of different building kits for the students to practice their engineering skills.

Makerspace Fact #9

Many of the teachers have used tools and other items from the Makerspace while setting up their classrooms.

Makerspace Fact #10

Not all of the storage bins in the Makerspace are full. You can help us fill them. Stop by the MPR to see how you can help.

Musical Instruments

Since fifth grade has been discussing sound in Science class, in STEM lab they designed and built musical instruments.  The goal was to build an instrument that could play at least three different pitches.  The students were provided shoe boxes, fishing line, rubber bands, two different types of drinking straws, card stock, tape, paper clips, and glue.  Some of the instruments made were drums, guitars, flutes, and kazoos.




Force and Motion

After talking about forces, pushes and pulls, the kindergarten class was given the opportunity to apply this knowledge.  So, in STEM lab, we assembled marshmallow launchers.  Each student built two launchers.  These were constructed from a paper or styrofoam cup and a balloon.  Once completed, we took them outside to test them out.  If given the chance to redesign the students concluded that the paper cup worked better because they were sturdier, and that you should only cut off a little of your balloon so it stayed in place better.  They also thought that smaller marshmallows would travel farther when launched than the larger ones I provided.

In Demand Jobs

May 11th the students of SJS participated in an all day event called In Demand Jobs Seminar.  During the morning the students listened to speakers share about their STEM careers.  We heard from a veterinarian, a surveyor, a civil engineer, and an industrial engineer.

During the afternoon the students worked on career interest inventories and spent some time at the Exploring Engineering exhibits in the gym.  Here the students were given a chance to participate in activities that were representative of nine different types of engineers.  For example, some students built working models of the hand during STEM lab.  This provided the students with the chance to see that a biomedical engineer might design and build prosthetics.


I would like to extend my thanks to all of my speakers and parent volunteers that helped make this day such a wonderful experience for the students!

A Helping Hand

I asked several 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to build a working model of a hand.  They were provided with cardboard, hot glue and glue gun, drinking straws, scissors, yarn, and rubber bands.  These models will be tested on May 11th in the Exploring Engineering displays at our In Demand Jobs Seminar.  This will help our students to see one of the things a biomedical engineer might do is to design, build, and test prosthetic appendages.

4th Grade Design Challenge

The 4th graders have been learning about the states of matter in their science class.  In STEM lab they were provided with egg cartons, plastic eggs, paper towel tubes, fabric scraps, newspaper, pipe cleaners, foil, waxed paper, and tape and asked to build a structure that will slow down the melting of an ice cube.  The structure was to to be designed and built so that the progression of the melting cube could be easily checked.


Pasta Skeletons

The third graders were challenged to build the skeleton using different types of dry pasta for a specific skeleton.