Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mother Bruce Uses STEM to Solve His Problem

To get students excited about the NC Children's Book Award Nominees, we will be doing as many STEM activities as possible.  The first book that we read was Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins.  I love this book. The illustrations and the story made me laugh every time I read it. The students gave me the idea for the STEM activity, but we could have made airplanes too.

I prepared five kits with materials to build a catapult. One kit had clothespins, a popsicle stick, a spoon, and rubber bands.  One kit had seven pencils, a spoon, and several rubber bands. Another kit had certain LEGO bricks.  One kit had seven popsicle sticks and several rubber bands. There was a kit that had certain K'Nex pieces.  The K'Nex kit is the only one that was allowed to be modified.
Inspiration for the STEM activity

The students were put into five groups. They were told that they could only use the items in their kit. One person in the group used their Chromebook to research how to make a catapult using the items in their kit. We talked about what the letters in STEM represent. We also discussed the STEM process. I told them that once they were in their group, I would no longer be available to answer questions. They would have to rely on each other to solve any problems they might have. That was harder for me than it was for them. Any questions for me had to be addressed before they got in their groups.

As I walked around, taking pictures and recording different groups, I couldn't resist offering suggestions. Overall, the students had the best attitudes. Most of the groups worked really great together.