Sunday, October 16, 2016

My Adventures with STEM: First Nine Weeks Design Challenges

It's hard to believe but we are at the end of the first nine weeks, and what FUN and amazing learning it has been for my little engineers and me!  As much as I would love to update my adventures every week, life has made it a design challenge for me to do so. :)  Therefore, I hope that reflecting on all the design challenges the first nine weeks will do for now.  So here is a recap of all the design challenges that we have completed so far!

On our first week of school, we emphasized on the rules of teamwork and collaboration.  While there were some tears along the way, the students learned that being positive and allowing everyone to share without fear of judgement were definitely the key to success as a team.

Below are the quick design challenges:
1. Build a launcher that will catapult a plastic army man the farthest across the room using one cup, an army man, a spoon, six Popsicle sticks, two rubber bands, and two feet of tape and string each. Special thanks to the Ardent Teacher for the wonderful idea! 

2. Save Fred, the gummy worm from drowning by getting a gummy lifesaver from under his boat and onto him using only four small paperclips (one for each member of the team) and a cup. Special thanks to Purdue University!

3. Help Harry, our little puffball friend by building a little perch for him to see the students as he is too short using pom balls, eyes, muffin tins, pipe cleaners, tape, index cards, and foil. Thank you to the Studio Teacher for such a fun design challenge!

4. Popsicle Bridges Challenge is also from the Ardent Teacher and it challenges students to design a bridge that will hold the heaviest amount of weight

5. Crazy Shakes Design Challenge encourages students to create their own team handshake with certain requirements from the teacher (i.e has at least 8 steps, involves all teammates, and can be repeated over and over again).

For our Good Citizenship Design Challenge, our team integrated Humanities into STEM and encouraged the students to create their own Good Citizenship Medal based on a particular trait of being a good citizen, nominate a student in the class for their award, write a speech on why that nominee is fitting of the award, and then presented before the class.  For all the details on this challenge, click to My Adventures with STEM: Week 2 and 3.  Below are some pictures from our challenge!

For our U.S. Symbols Design Challenge, our team looked back into our Humanities lessons for inspiration.  Students spent a week researching on various U.S. symbols, chose one as a group, and created it to the best that they could using Legos.  For more details on the challenge, click to My Adventures with STEM: Week 2 and 3.

On this challenge, we used ETA's Muddy Mats Kits to bring the students' designs to solve real-life problems. Since the challenge requires students to observe and test different types of fabric to create the best mat, we asked a personnel from the local Animal Shelter to visit us.  At the visit, the personnel described to the students the need for a good quality mat for the animals and workers.  Not only does the mat must be able to absorb a good amount of water, it must also not slide easily.

This was hands-down my most favorite design challenge so far!  To kick it off, we invited the Director of our District's daycare to explain that while the kids at the daycare loved playing with playdough, they didn't have any.  Therefore, our students were challenged to study and design high-quality playdough that the kids at the daycare could use!

Using only flour, salt, and water, students learned how different amounts of these ingredients could yield the best non-toxic playdough and then SCAMPERED it for the daycare.

What a busy and fun first nine weeks of learning and STEM!  I can't wait to share more as our year goes on!

If you would like additional resources on STEM, click to the images below! This resource is perfect for a quick introduction on STEM with signs for our classroom, beginning design challenges, and more!

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