Five for Friday! Too Busy Edition

Hi Friday Friends!
I think I forgot to link up last week.
So, that will tell you what has been going on lately!
TOO MUCH!

Too busy, too much to do, too many irons in the fire...

So, this week's theme is 5 Reasons I Have Too Much to Do!

Let's join Kacey at DoodleBugs:


First up, I was looking for something in my TpT store the other day and for the life of me I could not find it! I mean, I invented it! I knew it was there and I could not locate it.
So, I started wondering if maybe anyone else had trouble finding things. Well, I knew I had seen a product catalog with clickable links from someone else. So, I searched for product catalogs and lots of sellers have them. So, I decided to play around with a format I liked and see what I could invent.
Here ya go!
STEM Product catalog! This lists all my challenges by grade level and by NGSS standards. It also lists them alphabetically, by type, and includes a suggested materials list.
Inside you will find clickable links to STEM products organized by grade level, by NGSS Standard, alphabetical, and more! It was fun to make and I hope it is useful to some of you!

Now, I am working on a poster catalog! Cause I have a bunch of those, too!

Second Too Busy Thing:
Look at this face.
That's my big cat Luigi. He is our oldest buddy and just a big old grump bucket.
So, on top of being incredibly busy at school and with my second job, I had to stop and take care of my kitty. He went to the vet about a month ago for a regular check up and we found he had fleas. Yeah, I know, how is it possible that he had fleas and I didn't know. Well, he has THICK fur and he doesn't groom himself so I figured he was just dusty as he normally is....
After the flea meds he started losing weight. Mind you, he's a big boy, 18.3 pounds in October. But suddenly he lost TWO POUNDS! That's a lot for a cat- in a month! Also, he was drinking water ravenously and peeing so much.
Well, you know what those symptoms are.
Yes, that's right. Luigi has developed diabetes. He will have to have a shot daily until we can see if this is temporary or forever. Poor buddy.

So, what's the third thing keeping me busy?
...hmmm, well it was time to update my banner at my store. And I got started making them and came up with several I like. Which do you like best?






I changed it to the bottom one, but I like them all!
I know this was not an essential thing to keep me too busy, but it was on my To-Do list and doing things like this is something I can do while doing something else at the same time....

How about the fourth Busy Thing?
I have 15 classes. That is supposed to mean 3 preps each week- 5 classes in each grade level.
Well, it NEVER works that way. So, I have this right now:
  • All third grade classes are on the same STEM event. (Yahoo, except it was a brand new challenge and it took the whole week to work out the kinks!)
  • Half the 4th grade is finishing Water Towers and the other half is doing Egg towers.
  • Half the fifth grade is Designing Boxes and the other half is experimenting with parachutes.

But there is this:
STEM Challenge: Students found a very clever way to "skirt" the rules. They learned to build an egg tower and learned a new idiom!
Just when I am totally wiped out tired something like this happens. The egg tower had to be tall and hold up an egg. I said, "You can tape it to the tabletop. If you think your tower is going to be really tall, you can tape the base to the floor. It may not be propped against the side of the table or taped to the side of the table."
Take a close look at the photo. Did that group break any rules?

And the last busy thing on my list is:
BOXES!
This is my very favorite STEM challenge.
The kids would pick Roller Coasters
or Boats
or Pancakes.
I like building boxes.
This takes three class sessions, but in the end the kids have worked on calculating volume and surface area and they make a box.
The goal is to make the box with the largest volume and every group starts with a static surface area.
See what you think:
STEM Challenge: After working on calculating volume and surface area students are challenged to build a box with the greatest volume- all using the same size piece of poster board!
Which  box has the greatest volume?
The one with the red dot!
Obviously that group totally got it! Tall, wide, and deep makes the biggest volume!
The other part of this challenge is to name the cereal and create a TV commercial for it. Here's the one that makes me laugh:
STEM Challenge: After working on calculating volume and surface area students are challenged to build a box with the greatest volume- all using the same size piece of poster board!
Rainbow
Puppy
Crunch.
Why?
No reason. They just thought it was funny. That is my kind of kids.
This is a super busy challenge, but so worth the time.
So, even though I have too much to do, I still love my job.

Have a great weekend
and Thanksgiving.
I am taking the week off so join me back here on December 2 for What's Going on in the Lab?




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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!


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What's Going on in the Lab? Satellite Dish Towers

Oh. My. Goodness. We had the BEST time making these little towers!
Thanks for stopping by- photos and a video are included to share our latest tower extravaganza!
STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!
This tower idea was hatched after talking with some students that love to build towers. They requested just a box of materials and time to just build a tower. Well, as much as that sounded like fun, I also thought there should be a reason for it. Then two days later I happened to see a row of satellite dish devices lining the back of an apartment complex. Every balcony had one and some had two! I thought, "Why doesn't that apartment complex just have one big satellite dish or tower that everyone can access?
BAM! New Stem Idea!

Take a look:
 

This one has the ULTIMATE in COLLABORATION! This is one of my favorite ways to use a STEM challenge.

Here's the deal.
One group. Two teams.
One team builds the tower. One team build the satellite dish.
STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!
One bin  of supplies for the Tower team.
One bin of supplies for the Dish team.

So here's one group:
 STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!
 The dish!
STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!
The Tower!

Here's another:
STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!
 The tower!

STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!
The dish!
When they are ready the two parts must be joined together.
STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!

STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!

Will they fit correctly? Will the tower stand up to the weight of the dish? Will the dish follow the rules of the task? One of the rules was that the dish must rotate!
I don't like to choose favorites, but I thought this one was very clever! Look at the photo below.
The team cut up pieces of straws and placed them inside the cup, covered it, and then when the "dish" rotated the little pieces moved. They told me these were receptors....
STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!

Finally, my groups wanted to name their satellite dish "companies" and they came up with the most clever names.
STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!

STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!
See that little bat inside the cup above. That is drawn on the bottom of the cup-INSIDE the cup.
I said, to the boy that did this, "How did you get that picture inside the cup?"
He replied, quite dramatically, "A magician never reveals his secrets!"

We also had the S.I.S - which meant the Space International Satellite.
The Trashellite
Dish-o-roma
Supersonic Sky Satellite 3000
and this:
STEM Challenge: It's our latest tower event! One group divided into two teams. Each team builds part of the tower and when they are ready the two teams join their parts together! Fabulous collaboration opportunity!
That's the "I Wish I Had a Dish"!

This was an awesome challenge! It made us collaborate between two teams and I loved it. It was so interesting to hear the talk and see the two teams helping one another.
STEM AT ITS BEST!
Thanks for joining me for:
Come back next Wednesday for more and coming soon you might see:

Water Towers
Flood Barriers
Marble Runs
Index Card Bridges
Exploring Mean, Median, and Mode
Building Boxes


1

Five Ways to Decorate for Science!

Happy Friday once again STEM Friends!
I hope you read my weekly post two days ago so you can learn some truths about my classroom. If you missed that little gem, go back and take a look at the huge messes we made.
Then take a look here at Five Ways to Decorate Your Science Room!

It's time for Five for Friday and this week's theme is: Decorating!

Bulletin Boards and More! Fabulous ways to add some science decor to your classroom! Includes poster ideas and board ideas!
Of course, you might want to have a couple of really nice bulletin boards to display some sciencey stuff. The story behind this one is on my blog somewhere. Links are at the bottom of the post! This is actually my favorite board ever!
But, what if your boards are covered with other stuff and you still need to show some science related things?
Hmmmmm....here's some of the ways I do this!

First, the Scientific Method!
I discovered in the last few years that kids really don't know a lot about this at the elementary age, so I set out to make this part of their vocabulary and hope I am also teaching them a few things about variables and controls and making science based hypotheses!
I have a poster set that we refer to all the time!

The set includes a title poster and a flow chart of the steps!
Scientific Method posters for the elementary classroom! Featuring the colors of purple, lime, and bright turquoise! The set includes a title poster, a flow chart of the steps, and a poster for each step!

It also includes a poster for each step written in kid-friendly language!
Scientific Method posters for the elementary classroom! Featuring the colors of purple, lime, and bright turquoise! The set includes a title poster, a flow chart of the steps, and a poster for each step!

I have these hanging on a column that juts out in my classroom. It's actually the downspout from the roof of the lab to the ground (covered with concrete blocks)! Anyway, I can stand right under those posters and have kids look at the step of the scientific method that we are discussing! We use these all the time!

Simple, yet effective bulletin board for a STEM Lab! Check this blog post for more decorating tips!

Okay, this is my second favorite bulletin board. I love that it is so simple. I was going to add photos and stuff, but decided to leave it alone! The middle word was just one I projected from my computer in a silly font (Jokerman, perhaps) and then cut out the letters!

 Above the board are posters of Little Scientists. These are some I made a really long time ago in an effort to help kids see that scientists come in many varieties and they can be one, too! Science can be extremely specialized! Like, who knew there was a scientist that only studies reptiles? 
Here's a closer look at the posters!
There are 20 kinds of scientists in this set!

Kinds of Scientists posters! Check this blog post for more decorating ideas!


Bulletin Boards and More! Fabulous ways to add some science decor to your classroom! Includes poster ideas and board ideas!
By the time I invented the posters you can see in the photo above I had NO MORE wall space. So I started hanging things over the windows of some of my cabinets. This serves a dual purpose! HA! It also blocks the messes inside the cabinets. Those posters are the STEM Lab Rules. We refer to these every single day- especially "Leave your personal belongings outside the lab!" Do you have girls at your school that wear a purse all day? 
Above the cabinets is a very decorative little area. You can see a large tree "cookie" and a dried starfish. There are also several conch shells. And a great quote I painted on the wall.

Bulletin Boards and More! Fabulous ways to add some science decor to your classroom! Includes poster ideas and board ideas!
These cabinets are displaying posters of the Engineering Design Process. This was the very first poster set I made. I needed this when I started as the STEM lab teacher and just could not find a set I liked anywhere. Most of the resources I found had all the steps of the process on one piece of paper. So, I made my own.
Below the cabinets you can see my insect collection and above is another quote and some other cute things. 
I mean, why waste that space up there? Storage bins would be great, but they look awful, so I use that space just to be pretty.
Oh well, I live in the lab 7 hours a day. Right? It should be a nice, comfy place!

Bulletin Boards and More! Fabulous ways to add some science decor to your classroom! Includes poster ideas and board ideas!
Another set of posters! These are a set of Engineers. Each poster shows a kind of engineer and the words tell about that person's job. These are so fun to look at because kids get a sense of what jobs involve engineering and they come away knowing they can be one!

Okay, here are the links to other bulletin board posts that show more about the two boards above.
Click HERE
and HERE

And there you have it- some easy ways to get science decorating into your classroom and, by the way, the posters are not just pretty. They are useful!
The quotes and doodads on top of my cabinets - well those are just pretty!

Come back on Wednesday for another addition of What's Going on in the Lab?
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