Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What's Going on in the Lab? Flood Barriers!

Welcome back y'all!
I have been promising a post about our Flood Barriers and finally got to it!

STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!

So take a look at the video first.
It is going to present a spectacular challenge to you, but then I am going to tell you the nitty-gritty!


Looks like fun, right?
Okay, well here's the real scoop!

I had this amazing idea about having kids experiment with absorbent materials and then choose one to use in building a flood barrier.
STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!

STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!
After determining how much water leakage there would be for each absorbent material the groups would decide what to use.
Well, okay, this part worked pretty well. It was actually fun once I worked out the kinks!

Then we moved on to the flood barrier part.
Well, I had another brain pop and knew that if I just offered a bunch of materials to the groups they would just take some of everything!
Whether they need it or not.
I learned a long time ago that the way around this is to have the kids work using a budget!
STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!
So I set up a supply station and each item had a price. The kids had to fill out their cost sheet and then go shopping.
STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!
One class told me they were shopping at STEM Mart! Ha!

Okay, next it's time to build the barrier.
Originally I told them stories about storm surge and flooding and we watched a couple of videos. The plan was to protect your house from flooding.
Okay, just take a look at this:
STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!
What?????
Obviously, this was not exactly what I had in mind.
This was the Test Class and after they built things like this (and more) I knew I had to revise my thinking and explain it better.

The next classes were told that the flooding was happening in their back yard and it was a doghouse. I also toughened the constraints to the task and added the rule that the absorbent material and other items could NOT touch the house or be taller than the house.

Like this:
STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!
Much better!!

Well, I know you can see that the tub above has water being added to it!
That was what happened next. When the teams had their barrier ready we added two cups of water, waited 15 seconds, and then checked for leakage!

Here's a couple more of the dog house above:
STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!

STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!
It worked great. We removed the little house and there was zero leakage!

As you might know, I try to tell you only the truth.
And there are some things we learned in this challenge.
I made mistakes in the materials. Yep. Let's look at those disasters!

STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!
This was one built before I changed the rules. Looks like it might work, right? Nope. Those sponges are highly absorbent, but when you pack them around your house and they absorb water, guess what happens then? The water is transferred to the house! And I forgot to mention, these were paper houses.

STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!
SAND. IS. NOT. A. GOOD. IDEA!
I mean I thought it would be. Sand bags are used in floods, aren't they? So, in the test class sand bags were one of the supplies. Only the kids didn't know that a sand bag is meant to be a BAG. They poured the sand into the bottom of the pans. Did you know that sand will float? 
After I poured out the water I left these sandy pans on my back porch in the sun so they would dry out. (Yes, I have two back porches in my classroom!)

STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!

STEM Challenge: A Fabulous experiment and design challenge! Kids experiment with absorbent materials and then use the test results to design a flood barrier. Details and a video on my blog!
PLAY DOH. NOT A GOOD IDEA EITHER!
I thought this would be better than sand. So with the next class I took away the sand and offered play-doh. Kids built these neat little fences. It stopped the water! Success, right?
Do you know what happens to play-doh when it gets wet?
Trust me, don't ever do it unless you want slimy gooey stuff that will not wipe up. I scraped it off the bottom of those pans.

Lest you think it was all awful, take a look at the group of kids above. Every single time we tested a pan with water all the kids would gather around to watch. It was so much fun! If the house didn't leak, they would cheer and if it did they would groan.
Awesome!
 Even with the soggy play doh and wet sand.

Thanks for joining me for this week's addition of:

Coming soon:
Water Towers
Building Boxes
Exploring Mean, Median, and Mode
Index Card Bridges
and more!


3 comments :

  1. Awesome idea!! What supplies did you offer for the students?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome idea!! What supplies did you offer for the students?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kristin! I am so glad you like this challenge. We did some work before building the barrier which included experimenting, so the materials are numerous. You can get all the hints, directions, lab sheets, and materials from my TpT store: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STEM-Engineering-Challenge-Build-a-Flood-Barrier-2181818

      Thanks again!

      Delete

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