I thought that I would share four STEM activities that we did this past week. I took a class this past summer on the Next Generation Science Standards. An area that fascinated me was the turn that teaching is taking from teacher directed to student generated learning. I have always been a hands-on teacher, but I often would give my students the whole picture before giving them the opportunity to try it out. In my class, I was told that students should be given the opportunity to explore FIRST; then the discussion of what they experienced is turned into the lesson. It is a learning tweak that has challenged me as a teacher. I have had to let go and allow my students to find a path to the outcome without much direction from me. It's been fun watching them start with a hypothesis, test it out, and eventually come to a conclusion. Each of these activities took about 10 minutes. I set a timer and my kiddos rotated through each one.
Your teddy bear is stuck at the bottom of a well. You have a rope. How can you get your animal out of the well?
As you can see from the photo above, Teddy was in a bucket in the "well". The chair was the well. My students were told that they could not climb into the well to get Teddy. They had to get both Teddy and the bucket out of the well at the same time. It was interesting to watch them try to figure out what to do. Finally, they realized that if they looped the rope over the handle, they could PULL Teddy AND the bucket out of the well. After rescuing Teddy, they asked if they could put other animal friends in the well. Of course! This allowed them to understand that you need more strength to pull something that is heavy compared to something that is light.
How does a parachute work? Follow the steps to make a parachute. Tie your parachute to a small toy. Have a race between a toy NOT tied to a parachute and a toy that IS tied to a parachute. Which toy hits the floor first? If you were on the top of the mountain and needed to get down, would you jump or use a parachute? Why?
This activity was hard for my kinders; mainly because it involved tying knots! If you have a parent volunteer, I would suggest stationing them at this activity to help with the tying. I also suggest that you use lightweight paper and as well as a lightweight toy. We used regular copy paper and it was really too heavy. We also tied a clothespin to the bottom of the yarn which seemed too heavy. We did this activity as a follow-up to our gravity explorations. Their task was to understand how a parachute creates AIR RESISTANCE that slows down the effect of gravity. The fun part in this activity was that that they were able to stand up on a "mountain" (ladder) and drop their parachute!
Set up the empty bottles.
Try to knock the bottles down without using your hands.
How can you knock the most bottles down at the same time?
This was a simple activity to explore PUSH. The hardest part of the activity was collecting the empty bottles! We used empty water bottles. My husband suggested that I weight them somehow with rice or sand. BUT, I did not and the kids still had a good time and learned something about push and strength.
How can you get the pom-pom from one end to the other without using your hands?
I wanted my kids to experiment with wind power and to come to the conclusion that wind is a force that PUSHES. I applied blue tape on two sides of a table. I laid out various sizes of pom-poms in which to experiment. They used their wind power to PUSH the pom-poms from one side of the table to another.
If you would like the recording sheets and the station signs, click HERE.
This is a Google doc. If your school blocks sites that are outside the network, you will be unable to access this download at school. You will have to download it at home.
Until next time, my friends!