Monday, April 7, 2014

STEM Day

Alright, this post is a few weeks overdue, but it's one of those posts that is going to be jam packed with information.  I wanted to make sure that I didn't miss anything.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned on my fan page that I was getting ready to do a STEM Day.  In case you don't know what STEM is it stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math.  Basically, STEM gives your kiddos a chance to practice problem solving.  You give them a task and within that task you mix in at least three of the four areas.  For example, if they need to build a bird house, you may work that into an animal unit, have them research how to build a bird house, actually build the house, and then graph or measure all the materials used.

That sounds like a lot, but it's really a lot of fun.  Plus, your kiddos will think that they are playing all day.  I know this because that's what my kids said to me.  Over and over they kept telling me it was the best day ever because they thought they got to play all day.

So, how do you pull off a STEM Day?  Here's what I did.  I made a schedule so I knew what I was trying to get done in one day.


Then, I made a list of all the materials I needed to get.  Honestly, I had most of the materials already.  The materials I didn't have were pretty cheap.  I managed to get everything I needed from The Dollar Tree or Target.

Alright, so here are pictures of the lessons we did.  I found several of these on Teachers Pay Teachers, so if it's from TPT, I'll give you a link so you can grab it.
This was one of my favorite challenges.  You break your students into groups of four.  You give them 40 mini glasses (I found mine at Target).  Then, they have 20 minutes to make the tallest structure possible.
You can get this activity from Smart Chick.
This challenge was fun, but I have to say it didn't go as planned.  No idea what we did wrong, but we kept stacking boxes and boxes of crayons on my kids' bridges and it held it all.  I gave my kids the exact tools that it said to give them.  We used crayons instead of pennies as the weights.  My kids figured out very quickly to spread the straws out, tape them down, and stack everything on top.  

 I'd still recommend this activity and even this packet.  Several of my teammates did the activity where their kids had to build a Peep boat that would float.  It turned out awesome!  Here are some pictures from one of my teammates.

You can get this packet from Smart Chick.
I have to say, this was one of my favorite activities.  I got the idea from the Pumpkin Roll by Regina Davis. Since an Egg Roll didn't exist I just made it up as I went.  I gave my kids 12 straws, 20 small popsicle sticks, 7 pieces of paper, tape, and a plastic egg.  My kids had to build a ramp and see which team would have an egg roll the furthest.  Once the kids got started building their ramps, I decided to build a ramp too.  We had tons of fun on this one!

Okay, so are you good at reading directions and looking over all your materials?  Well, I have a way of not doing that.  I had a ton of fun on this challenge, but to be honest, first off, we used materials recommended and then grabbed whatever else was out of place in my classroom or what we could find outside.

The next part was fun.  We talked about zoos, looked at pictures of zoos, and then each kid drew a picture of an animal habitat he/she wanted to create.  Then, the kids went back to their groups and had to pick one drawing to use as their model.  Surprisingly, they narrowed them down pretty quickly.

So, here's where I messed up.  My kids get their models done and they looked great!  Well, I go to return supplies to one of my teammates and I notice her landform models and her Activboard.  Oops!  We did habitats, but we were supposed to build specific landforms.  Probably why it's named Landforms, huh?  So, I have pictures of my teammate's boxes so you can see it done right.  Honestly, I kind of forgot to get good pictures of mine, so I'll try to add them after Spring Break.  By the way, we ended up moving this to the following day and we worked on our boxes for around an hour and a half.
 You can find this project at Ivy Taul's TPT store.
This was one of my favorite activities because it was following a solid week of rain.  My kids really related to the fact that they had to come up with a way to keep the playground dry for when it rains.  I gave my kids 10 notecards, 8 straws, Play-Doh, tape, and a "Playground" (An 8x11 piece of paper with a playground drawn on it).  I also had a spray bottle, so when 15 minutes was up, I went around and sprayed the top of each playground five times.

As crazy as it sounds, this was the hardest ones for my kids to figure out.  It also ended up being the one that caused them to argue a little because they had differing opinions on how to do this.

Now, I know you see Challenge 6 at the top.  We did Challenge 6, but I completely forgot to take pictures.  It went okay, but it required a lot of adult help, so I'm going to try it again next year and hopefully then it will work perfectly.

So, if you've gotten this far you are probably thinking this may be fun.  Here are a few tips.
I put breaks between each activity so I had time to pull things together.  I kept all my supplies in one bag.  Then, I would take what I needed and put them into plastic organizers.  This helped a lot with getting things passed out and with clean up.
 Each packet had recording sheets with it.  We did the sheets together using our Activboard and our Ladibug.  We still wrote down different answers on certain parts, but it made it much easier to discuss doing it together.  It also gave me a few minutes to redo containers and to clean up all the materials between each challenge.

 Alright, I hope this post helped you some.  I know my teammates and I have decided that we want to use some of these next year for our Fun Fridays.  Most of these activities are just right for that amount of time.

5 comments:

  1. Love this! I will be teaching these lessons in my own class!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  2. I want o be in your class! How fun! I am NOT there yet..I'll keep learning & then I'll YELL TO YOU FOR HELP! :) Great ideas! Wendy 1stgradefireworks 1stgradefireworks

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  3. Thanks for explaining your activities so well. Sounds like a lot of fun activities that meet the STEM standard. I will be using some of your activities in my own classroom. Thank you so much for sharing these great ideas!

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  4. What a fantastic day. I can see why the kids loved it and thought they were playing. Some of these ideas will be headed my way. Thanks for great directions.

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  5. What common core standards did you use? I cant wait to try these!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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