Five for Friday- the Bridge Version!

Happy Friday and happy because next week is short!!

Don't forget to  join Kacey at Doodlebugs for Five for Friday!

So this is all about bridges.....one of our favorite activities in the lab!
STEM - This post is all about bridges we have built in the STEM Lab! So many different versions and all super fun (and full of learning)!

 First bridge we tried...

Okay, I know kids love making bridges. It's a challenge I have used with my science club years and years ago and then again in the STEM lab one year ago. For some reason, any time we build something and then test it by adding weights, kids go nuts. It's a competition thing, I think. They especially love it when they get to 100 pennies, because that is ONE DOLLAR! (They race across the lab to tell their friends- like one dollar is just so much....)

Anyway, the first bridge we tried last year was a platform bridge.

STEM Bridge: This is a platform bridge that uses only one materials! It's a lot more challenging than it looks. Kids will be intrigued at designing one that will hold the most weight!

This was super easy, one supply, and had unexpected results. The platform bridges held a lot of weight! The main thing we had to determine, however, is whether or not this is a bridge. I had kids do the research and here is what they found: 
Granted, it's not the Golden Gate Bridge, but it is a platform that appears to be solid on the bottom and still works as a bridge. We also thought decks and floating boat docks might be considered platform bridges.
You can see more details about Index Card Bridges {HERE}!

 Next Bridge!
We loved , loved this one. Well, who wouldn't? Two supplies, easy prep, and it took some brain power to determine how to connect all that and still have a structure to connect the two banks (tissue boxes). Then we placed a bowl on top and counted pennies into it. Total fun!

STEM Bridge- This bridge is made of two main materials. It must span a gap and hold weight. The real dilemma is in how to make those building materials less flimsy!
More details about Marshmallow Bridges, {HERE}!

Next Bridge!
Now this one had more supplies, but was still easy prep. The biggest dilemma was how to connect straws together. You might notice that the bridge in the photo has toothpicks stabbed through the straws- not the best of ideas. I did this bridge experience with  5th graders. 

STEM Bridge- Another great design challenge with building a bridge that will hold weight. The main materials are straws and toothpicks. The challenge is in how to use those materials together to span a gap!
Details about this bridge made of Toothpicks and Straws can be found {HERE}

Next up, the best ever, most amazing bridge!
This is one of best bridge building experiences. I created a homework video and put it on my classroom website! My fifth graders had to watch this and come to class prepared with ideas about building a suspension bridge.
I will have to tell you that I have not seen such excitement over anything we have done (even pancakes)!
STEM Bridge! Let's build a suspension bridge using craft sticks and glue! Can you add string to make it resemble a rel suspension bridge?

STEM Bridge! Let's build a suspension bridge using craft sticks and glue! Can you add string to make it resemble a rel suspension bridge?
The photos show two bridges in the beginning stages.
Here's a finished one!
STEM Bridge! Let's build a suspension bridge using craft sticks and glue! Can you add string to make it resemble a rel suspension bridge?
The Suspension Bridge details are {HERE}

Finally, do you think first graders can build bridges? YES, they can! I tried something with a group of littles that was just amazing.
First Grade STEM: Each child had ten counting cubes and four craft sticks. All I told them was, "Build a bridge." Check this blog post for more!
They used two materials and after watching a short video about engineers and talking about bridges they set out to build one!
You can try a post I wrote just about this experience right here:

Thanks for stopping by to read all about bridges.
You might also want to check my Pinterest board that is all about them!

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FIVE for Friday~ FIVE Things I Have Learned This Year!


So, what is going on in the Lab!
Let's get caught up with all some of the things I have tried since school began!

FIRST, let me just say that I view teaching everyday as one big giant experiment. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don't. You cannot plan this stuff, people.
Well, I mean you can plan for class, but you absolutely cannot predict how it will go.

You know exactly what I mean.

No matter how much you plan something and try to think of everything possible to make your days go well, there is still that moment when a little child says (with some anxiety in her voice), "Mrs. Davis, I have to go to the bathroom right now"....and you realize the child is already peeing right on your feet. (That happened to me....)

So, despite all my thinking that this new year would go splendidly, I must confess, I have made some boo-boos! Let's review them, shall we!??
And why not make this a list of FIVE and
make it Five for Friday!
Clever, right?

Thanks Kacey for my weekly excuse to make a list of five things....

First Thing I Learned

Remember when I wrote about my Behavior Management Plan for this year?
There's the little graphs I created for each of my 15 classes. The plan was to start everyone off with ten tabs on the class graph and remove a tab whenever someone created some drama. At the end of the week the class with the most remaining would be the Class of the Week.
BIG Failure- epic.
The tabs would not stay on. I am inconsistent with having kids remove them as I am too busy for the small stuff....
so I gave that up.
I have misbehaving kids sign a log and that student has a consequence depending on the infraction. Too many log signings and I make a phone call to mom. I am still choosing a Class of the Week and the kids like that. I put the class names on the lab door and they do notice! The teachers notice, too! 

Second Thing I Learned

Don't cook pancakes for NINE classes.
I had this enormous Brain Pop.
I invented this amazing STEM Activity that involved experimenting with cooking pancakes.
I decided to make it a Fourth grade activity and then realized my fifth graders would miss out on this fabulousness.
So, I decided to let them also do the activity.
That meant NINE classes all mixing and stirring and cooking and eating and making a huge mess at the same time and it took three weeks to complete.......
Mind you, it was a super, best thing ever, kind of activity, but much too busy for that many classes at the same time!
I will repeat it next year for just one grade level!

Third Thing I Learned


Third Graders might not always think outside the box.
And when they do- it's a doozy.
Our STEM Challenge this week: Design a robot model and the robot must have a function, a purpose, a reason for being.
That robot in the photo is Galaxy Man.

His function? Glad you asked. All those shiny doodads and extensions are forms of weapons. His job is to save the Galaxy.
And I thought they would invent homework robots and lunch making robots- nope, we are saving the GALAXY.


 Fourth Thing I Learned

Kids do not know how to measure. I gave them measuring cups and showed them how to level off the cup with the edge of a knife. Here's what they did....

They did pretty well at this, but still spilled a ton of flour and baking powder!
Anyway, I spent about two weeks after that working on different forms of measurement. By far, the favorite activity was using a balance scale:

And, yes, that is a child with two broken arms. His team encouraged him to try the scale even though his casts went above the elbow and he could not bend his arms!


Fifth Thing I Learned

Platforms are fun. We have built two different versions of platforms so far and had a really fun time.
Mostly we have had to make sure we are building a platform and not Rapunzel's tower.





And, finally, building something using just basic and inexpensive supplies is the best thing of all....

Here's our Spoon Towers:

It's been a great start for this year.
Everyday is an experiment.
But I do have a science lab as my classroom!

How is your year going?
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Let's try a Quick Challenge! Pom-Pom Blasters!

Well, thanks for stopping by!
I hope that intriguing title drew you in....
I once wrote a blog post about how to be the perfect blogger. One of the things you need is a great title....just sayin'

If you missed that little gem of a post, click {here}.

In the meantime.... How on earth do you keep multiple classes together?
Hmmmm....Take a look!
STEM Quick Challenges - These quick challenges are fabulous for so many reasons! Easy prep, easy materials, and super fun! A sub can do one of these, they are great for spur-of-the-moment needs, and each has two methods of recording data.

Let me explain.
I teach only Science.

I have 15 classes in three grade levels.
Now, that appears to be rather easy to plan, you would think. I mean, jeez, I would just need to plan for one science activity for each grade level and then just repeat it a few times. Easy peasy.

Nope.

I promise, rarely do I have every class doing the same thing. We have days off, assemblies, field trips, kid with two broken arms, and any number of other things that change my schedule. Inevitably, there will be some classes that are off by a week or even two. So, I am in a constant state of getting everyone caught up so we can begin the next activity together! (Have I mentioned I am OCD...about order and stuff?)



Okay, here's my point.
I have a need for some filler activities. When one class in a grade level gets behind and I need to wait a week before beginning something new with the all of them at the same time then I need a Filler science activity. Sometimes I need a filler for every grade level at the same time (like right NOW!) I just need something that has
NO background work. 
No lesson.
NO research.
Just- here are your supplies.
Get busy!

Most of my STEM activities take more time than that.
I mean we do some pretty cool stuff, but you can't throw cooking pancakes together without some background and gathering of supplies and a lot of prep.....
so...

Ta-Da!

QUICK CHALLENGES HAVE BEEN BORN!

Really, I had this amazing brain pop yesterday.
Why not just hand kids a box of stuff and give them some very SIMPLE directions!

Give them most of the class time to design.
Share the designs!
Move on!

It is brilliant.
Then I started thinking of all the things we could do. My list now has TWENTY ideas on it!
And the ideas are so cool! I am very excited about sharing these with my students.


Then I started thinking about all the uses for a Quick Challenge. It's an amazing list:

1. If you teach multiple classes, like me, and need something for a class or two, but not the others, then try it.
2. If you have  a sub day and need something that is easy to prepare, easy supplies, and very little teacher instruction, here ya go!
3. If you teach gifted students and need something for an hour long class, this will work.
4. If you are trying STEM for the first time and just want something fairly easy just to get your feet wet, this is for you!
5. What about your early finishers? Could you hand them a prepared  box and let them go to work? Of course you could.
6. Dare I say use a Quick challenge box for homework? You could- just send the box and directions card home for a weekend and see what the family comes up with!
7. What about Science night at your school? A Quick challenge box sitting out on kid's desks would be perfect!
8. What about  those weird days of school? You know, like the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving when you somehow have to still have class, but for only two days. Use a Quick Challenge!  (Once a long time ago we came back to school after Christmas break - on a FRIDAY! Really, one day of school that week!)
9. Use this as a class reward! 
10. EMERGENCY Plans- you know we all have those days when things are just not going right. The quick challenges are easy to assemble, with supplies you probably already have in your classroom. Put together some boxes and let your kids go to work.
11. Have you ever had a combined class? Every spring my school sends fifth graders to an Environmental Camp, but every student does not go. Usually about 20-25 kids stay at school in a combined class. A Quick Challenge would be great for that!
12. Enrichment class- We have a special day when students go to a class they have chosen- like line dancing, cheer-leading, chess, or robotics. A Quick Challenge could be a choice for this kind of enrichment.
13. What about your Science Club? I had an after school Science club for many years. I used quick challenges all the time back then- before STEM became a buzz word!
14. Homeschoolers! Whoa! A Quick Challenge would be so cool! The supplies for most of the ideas I have are simple things you already have or can easily get at the dollar store. The challenges can work with a single students or a small group.

So, how does it work?
This is the best part! Especially if you have multiple classes, because the prep is so easy. (A  lot of prep doesn't bother me, mind you, but sometimes it is overwhelming to prepare. You know, I did the pancake activity with NINE classes! We loved it!)
Anyway, Easy prep.
Use a lab sheet if you want to or just design and build.
Easy clean up.
100% engagement with students.
Collaboration, communication, hands-on, critical thinking, creativity, awesomeness!

Take a look at the Prep:
Gather the supplies and get boxes ready. (I used plastic shoe boxes, but any kind of container will work- even a paper sack!) Now, just add stuff to each box- like an assembly line!


Finally, add the student instruction card:
I know, right? Easiest prep ever!

But it gets better. Now the last ingredient...
KIDS!

STEM QUICK Challenge- This one is all about building a device to propel pom- poms. We call it a Pom-pom Blaster!
Look at that one closely. The straw on the left goes through the first cup and into the second cup. They used the twisty part of the straw to make an L shape and then tried to put the pom pom on top of the straw. When the pom pom would not stay on the straw they took the bottom of the cup (already cut off) and used it as a platform to put the pom pom on. Now, blow in the straw and the pom pom blasts off! Genius!

STEM QUICK Challenge- This one is all about building a device to propel pom- poms. We call it a Pom-pom Blaster!
Pull back on the middle rubber bands and it launches the pom pom. The way they attached the rubber bands is really cool, but too hard to describe! Also, this one actually does not follow the constraints of the task- it's taped to the table, but I still love it!

STEM QUICK Challenge- This one is all about building a device to propel pom- poms. We call it a Pom-pom Blaster!
I love this photo because you can see the kids working together.
This task was amazingly cool to see as they kids collaborated intensely!

STEM QUICK Challenge- This one is all about building a device to propel pom- poms. We call it a Pom-pom Blaster!
This actually worked, but was very flimsy.

STEM QUICK Challenge- This one is all about building a device to propel pom- poms. We call it a Pom-pom Blaster!
Okay, it is just a slingshot. But here's what happened. They worked diligently, but everything they tried failed. When time was nearly over, they threw this together and announced, "We wanted to have something and we know it's little, but it works and we tried hard!" How can you not love that?

STEM QUICK Challenge- This one is all about building a device to propel pom- poms. We call it a Pom-pom Blaster!
Finally, this group built a very nice catapult launcher! It worked great!

Friends, this challenge was spectacular! The kids loved it! They were very excited about the idea of opening those boxes and seeing what was inside and what the challenge would be! 

So, we will do more of these!
I have a ton of ideas and can't wait to share them with my students and with you!
Here's the FIRST one:

STEM QUICK Challenge- This one is all about building a device to propel pom- poms. We call it a Pom-pom Blaster!
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Five for Friday~ Random Projects!

It is Friday!
Next week has a day off
which would be great
except that it is on Tuesday!
Who has a day off on a Tuesday?

Anyway, thank goodness for Friday and for Five for Friday. Thank you so much Kacey for this weekly linky that we all love!

This week I decided to give you a peek into my classroom!
It has been an amazing week. I have been able to just walk around the lab tables and listen in on the talk about our projects. The kids are almost 100% engaged and the talk is about what they are working on.....with a little football talk every now and then. After all, we do live in Alabama...Roll Tide!


Let's start with third grade!
We have been learning about volume with an amazing challenge that involves popcorn. Students are challenged to build a container for a specific amount of popcorn. Their containers are really funny and, for the most part, really too big. 
STEM Challenge: This one is all about volume and how much a container will hold. Students make a container to hold a specific amount of popcorn!

STEM Challenge: This one is all about volume and how much a container will hold. Students make a container to hold a specific amount of popcorn!

Next, they tried to determine why a certain number scoops always happens when you fill containers! It's pretty messy, but effective in working on a perception of volume and that volume might depend on the containers- not the stuff in them!
STEM and Math- This challenge is all about determining how volume and the size of containers compare. Students use a scoop to fill containers and then learn a lot about volume!

STEM and Math- This challenge is all about determining how volume and the size of containers compare. Students use a scoop to fill containers and then learn a lot about volume!

On to fourth grade!
We have been building platforms!
The biggest problem kids are having is making it a platform and not Rapunzel's Tower! 
I love this challenge- TWO supplies- newspapers and tape!
STEM- easy materials- just newspaper and tape! Students must build a platform that has several rules to follow! Super fun!

STEM- easy materials- just newspaper and tape! Students must build a platform that has several rules to follow! Super fun!



FIFTH Grade!
We have learned all about calculating volume and surface area and then the challenge was to build a box with the greatest volume possible- if everyone begins with the same beginning surface area!
STEM Challenge- Build a container that has the greatest volume, but every group begins with the same surface area. This one involves a lot of math as students learn to calculate surface area and volume!
Pretty clever design on this one. That cube shape has the greatest volume of any class so far!

STEM Challenge- Build a container that has the greatest volume, but every group begins with the same surface area. This one involves a lot of math as students learn to calculate surface area and volume!



What is up next in the lab?
Well, third grade is jumping into erosion and weathering! Not sure how we are going to do that yet, but I am working on it! Here's a sneak peek:
Weathering and Erosion: Reading and Task Cards for erosion and weathering, word wall strips, flash cards, and more!



Fourth grade is building another platform- using STRAWS! Another sneak peek:
STEM Challenge- Build a platform using straws and paper clips! Super fun design challenge!


Fifth grade is starting a spectacular project on suspension bridges! I am thinking it will be amazing! And one last sneak peek:
STEM Challenge: Kids love to build bridges! This one is the best STEM challenge we have tackled! It’s a suspension bridge!


I will leave you with a funny of the week!

How did we live before Pinterest?

Speaking of Pinterest- for all bridges check this board:


Have a great weekend!
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