Friday, August 28, 2015

Engineering Challenges -5th grade - Challenge #1

5th grade has just completed their first Engineering Challenge.  This involved designing and building a bird beak that would pick up "food" like dry rice and dry beans.  They were given limited supplies.  They first drew out their ideas on their own and then worked in groups to decide who's idea to use or whether or not to use a combination of ideas.  This process gave them the opportunity to lobby for their idea, to be an active listener to others' ideas, and to compromise when choosing the final idea.  The build and then test process was also interesting.  Many of the bird beaks did not work the first time on both types of food.  They had to be improved in some way.  Some even had to be started all over again.  The students handled this disappointment with amazing patience.  I believe they have learned over the years in my class (and others) that mistakes are part of the process.  They know that tenacity will help them achieve their goals.  I am very proud of their accomplishments!!!

The build process:

The testing station:

Testing in progress:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Engineering challenges 2nd grade - 1st challenge

For this challenge the students were given the problem of building a boat with limited materials that could float and hold 6 Lego people.  They worked through the Engineering Design Process to complete the challenge.  They could only use 5 straws, one piece of wax paper, and some tape.  They drew out their own ideas and then were put into teams to decide on a final idea.  Once they decided and all teammates agreed, they were able to get their supplies and start building!  The process required excellent negotiation skills, cooperation, and critical thinking/problem solving.  I am so proud of their results!  It was incredibly rewarding to watch them struggle through each step to get to the final float test.  Not all boats floated the first time and some needed to be improved.  They handled this like champs.  I believe that this type of tenacity will get them far in life.  

The building process:

The big float test:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Back to School 2015-2016

Making friends while we create patterns!
We are kicking the year off to a great start in STEAM class!  We are busy diving into some quick Engineering Challenges, learning how to work in teams, and learning how to be successful in our classroom. Students are showing me their problem solving skills and so far it is really impressive!  Our goals during this unit are to learn how to fail; to learn how to start again after failure; to learn strategies for overcoming frustration; and to learn that if you are not making mistakes sometimes, you are not challenging yourself enough.  I am a big believer in allowing students to make mistakes so that they can learn from them.  I want your children to do a little more than what they think they can do--whether that is specific to an engineering project or with just following classroom expectations, I think they can all meet their challenges head on.  I am so proud of what they have accomplished so far!  Here are a few photos of the progress in the first couple of weeks.

Working together to build something to solve a problem.

If they work together, their marble tower can be even bigger!

Let the Engineering Challenges begin!

They are ready for the first challenge!

Building together can be difficult, but the reward is huge!

She is ready for the first challenge!

They are ready for the first pages of their Engineering Challenges book!

They worked together to make it really complex!

Engineering Challenge book is ready for pages!

The cup challenge requires a lot of tenacity!

Marble challenge is more fun with friends.

She is ready to learn more about Architecture.

Diving into some circuits!

Marble challenge with an air guitar.

Symmetric and creative!

Engineering challenges let us learn how to fail and try again.

Ready for the first challenge!

We cheer mistakes because they are an opportunity to learn!

Circuits are fun!

The result of our first Fairy Tale Engineering Challenge!

They made creative friends and places for our Fairy Tale Chameleon.

Our Fairy Tale Engineering Challenge

She made a friend for the chameleon in our first Fairy Tale Engineering Challenge!