This week in STEM lab grades 3, 4, and 5 worked cooperatively to design a 3D puzzle. Groups or 3-4 students built puzzle pieces by connecting square and rectangle Lego bricks with flat bricks to make “puzzle pieces.” These often took the shape of an “L” or a “T.” They also made larger squares and rectangles in the same fashion. A completed puzzle had all its pieces fit into a 10 x 10 square. Many groups had to redesign their early attempt because of empty spaces. When completed, some groups traded puzzles to see if they could work them.
Many classes have spent some time working on Halloween themed design challenges. Kindergarten and grade 1 spent STEM lab building the tallest mummy using only newspaper, toilet paper and tape. Grade 2 was tasked with using 3 strips of orange paper, a half sheet of brown paper, green tissue paper, and a cardboard tube to build a 3D pumpkin. They were required to use all of the materials given. Grades 6 and 8 read an article about how parachutes worked and then designed one of their own to help a witch who has fallen off her broom. Grade 4 spent time figuring out how to get a “creepy crawly” to travel up a string that was 2 meters in length without touching the “creepy crawly.”
The third, fourth, and fifth graders recently took a field trip to the Cleveland Aquarium. Here they learned to “read a fish.” This meant they were able to look at a fish’s tail, body shape, mouth, and coloring/patterns and determine how this helps a fish survive in its habitat. They then practiced this skill as they toured the aquarium. At the end of the trip, the students worked in groups to make a fish that would be able to survive in the habitat they chose. It was wonderful to watch the students practice the design cycle outside of the classroom and STEM lab.
The first graders have been learning how to code with an app called Blockly. They are writing code to navigate Dash, the robot. Soon the first graders will be able to write code well enough to navigate Dash around a game board designed by the fifth grade class. This game will require the students to write the correct code to move Dash to a spot on the board they want him to get to. If this does not happen, they will have to “debug” and find the problem so that it can be corrected on their next turn.
The second graders have been learning about weather in their Science class. After spending some STEM lab time discussing the types of weather Ohio has, the students participated in a design challenge to build a shelter that will protect a garden gnome from Ohio’s weather. It needed to keep the gnome warm in winter, cool in summer, and protect it from the different types of precipitation we receive in our state.
The fourth grade has been learning about food chains and food webs in Science. To practice this skill, the students worked in groups to make a large scale food web. They had to practice being open-minded and collaboration to accomplish this task.
The students in grades K-8 and the teachers spent the last three weeks working on a design challenge for our Makerspace. Each class was assigned a letter in the word Makerspace to build. The letter was to be 9 x 12 inches in size and was to be built as a 3D letter. No class was allowed to use exactly the same materials to build their letters. When presenting their ideas on September 14th, I was curious to see how some classes would pull off their visions. Many classes learned they needed to rethink their initial plans as well. In the end, all the classes presented their letters which will hang on the purple wall in the Makerspace.
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.
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.