Friday, January 8, 2016

Five for Friday! Get Started in STEM

Happy New Year STEM and Science Friends!
What a great way to begin this blogging year- with joining Kacey at Doodlebugs and Five for Friday!

I get so many questions about STEM and, in fact, I devoted a whole blog series to the topic last summer. Questions range from, "How hard it is to get started?" to "What supplies will I need?" to "Where will I get ideas?"
So, I thought I would devote this week's Five for Friday to five questions I am asked often about STEM !
Have you considered trying a STEM Challenge in your classroom? Are you a little apprehensive when you try something new? Do you have questions? I'd love to help you! In fact, I have written several blog posts about this very topic. Zip over to my blog right now to find five questions answered that I am asked most often. You will find easy answers, photos, advice, links to more reading about STEM, and a small freebie! Best of all, you will discover your kids LOVE STEM and will beg to do more!

First Question:
How will I make time for STEM?
Easy answer: Integrate! Overlap your subjects! If you are reading about inventions, add a STEM task at the end. If you reading and writing about forms of energy, have your students design and build a windmill. You guys know how to do this! You do it all the time.
Here's the best example I can give you and it comes from a feedback a buyer left me recently!
What a fabulous idea! Complete the STEM challenge and then incorporate the results into your writing plan!
Here's another idea?
Are you reading about Snowflake Bentley right now? Is it snowing where you live? Why not spend some time reading about snow, writing poems about snow, and then throw in a couple of STEAM tasks?
STEM Challenge: Build a Snowflake! Easy materials and great fun- plus the added mathematical element of symmetry and measurement!

STEM Challenge: Build a snowman! Follow specific design constraints to make a cute snowman model. This works for wintery climates and places that never get snow!
Those two photos are showing you two winter STEM/STEAM tasks we just finished and they were so much fun! We spent time learning how snowflakes form, talked about how to build a snowman, and then made each.
We also designed igloos after viewing a video of how to build one and why they are built! Do you know why igloos have a dome shaped roof?

Anyway, pull some STEM right into what you are already doing! I promise, it will be worth your time!

Second Question: How will I get my kids to work together?
Easy Answer: Work on it!
Team work in my classroom doesn't just happen. We spend lots of time on team building activities when school begins in August and this is also how I started us out when school resumed this week!
Here are two of our favorite team activities:
STEM Challenge: Make a paper chain using one piece of paper! What a great community building activity this is!
 In this one teams are given one piece of paper and the task is to build a paper chain as long as possible. It's a great way to introduce team collaboration, listening to each other's ideas, and then dividing the jobs within a group. You can read more about it {HERE}
Team Building in STEM class
This is one my kids love so much. The kids form a circle and then each one picks up a string or two. In the photo the strings are pink and they are all attached to a center ring. I start off with having kids lift a tennis ball and then get progressively harder with the items they have to pick up. You can read more about this {HERE}.
My advice is to try some team building events and talk through decisions kids have to make in order for their team to work best.
I often use a poster to work on Group Dynamics.
Have you considered trying a STEM Challenge in your classroom? Are you a little apprehensive when you try something new? Do you have questions? I'd love to help you! In fact, I have written several blog posts about this very topic. Zip over to my blog right now to find five questions answered that I am asked most often. You will find easy answers, photos, advice, links to more reading about STEM, and a small freebie! Best of all, you will discover your kids LOVE STEM and will beg to do more!
We talk about each one of the things on the poster (not all on the same day). Click on the poster to get your free copy!

Third Question:
What is STEM? What is the Engineering Design Process?
Easy Answer: Get kids to design something with the steps of the EDP!
I have posters in my lab that show these things along with the Scientific Method. I can bet you money that my students can recite the Scientific Method steps and what each means-- but about a month ago I realized that they might not be able to tell you very much about the EDP! So, I created a way to help cement this information for them. They loved it because it involved coloring and cutting (BUT NO GLUE)!
STEM Class: Make Little Flipper books to introduce topics and get your kids ready for STEM!
This really did help with my thirdies and I will start this off in August next year with my new third graders. It's a fabulous way to get kids to write in Science class and it also has parts where they can show off their creativity. You can read more about this {HERE}

Fourth Question: Where will I get supplies? Aren't there a lot of things I need?
EASY ANSWER: The dollar store. Next easy answer: Ask parents to send in things.
This year I asked for paper towel roll tubes and toilet tissue tubes. I now have enough of those stored to last for about 30 years.
I'm not kidding!
 I also asked for straws. Take a look at this:
STEM: Team Building in STEM class is as easy as trying to lift an object with a set of connected strings. Kids have to work together tho keep that center object aloft. We make the center object easy to begin and then get progressively harder!
Those are straws.
About 4000.
I am not kidding.
Parents sent all those in. I also have enough craft sticks to last about forever. 
Seriously though, try the dollar store- we have one called the Dollar Tree. (Not sure why tree is in its name, but it is still a fun place for teachers!)
You can read more about STEM supplies from the Dollar Tree right {HERE}


Fifth Question: Doesn't STEM require a lot of prep and setting up the stuff?
Easy Answer: Yes. Second Easy Answer: NO!
This entirely depends on the challenge you choose.
We absolutely loved designing Pancakes. This required setting up griddles and mixing bowls, learning how to measure ingredients, and then cooking batch after batch as we experimented. The kids loved this. I would NEVER recommend this to someone that is just starting out!
But I would heartily recommend this one:
STEM Challenge: This one use one supply! Easy prep, easy clean up, great learning, and super fun! What could be easier!
It has one supply.
ONE.
SUPPLY.
Index cards. That is all.
You can  opt to use tape, too!
This is super easy and yet it follows the engineering design process, involves great team work and collaboration, definitely makes kids think and problem solve, and most assuredly leads to learning about many things!

So, there you have it! Answers to some perplexing questions that will help you get going in STEM as this second semester begins.
You can also try my Summer STEM Series:
Click on the links below to get to those topics:
All About Supplies
Collaboration
The Science
Problem Solving

You can also contact me. Find the link at the top of the page!
I would love to answer your questions!

Have a great weekend!




5 comments :

  1. Those are some fun ideas! I love the teamwork that happens when kids have to work together to problem solve! Can't wait to try some of these!
    Katie
    Inquiring Our Way Through Third Grade

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  2. Your class always looks so fun! We have done just 2 stem activities this year, but I am committing to try to do at least 1 a month for the rest of the year. I love the snowflakes, we are studying winter and snow for the next two weeks so we are going to incorporate those. Just love all your ideas. Thanks for sharing!

    ~Laura
    Luv My Kinders

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  3. I am so happy I stumbled upon this today! I know I've talked to you in the past and this week on instagram, however reading over these questions/answers really have helped me put everything together. I just wanted to say thank you for always being willing to share and to help out. My after school class is about to do their first project on Tuesday all thanks to you! I can't wait to share!!!
    Ana
    Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Ana! That makes me very excited for your students! Have a great weekend!

      Delete
  4. Such great STEM ideas! I'm thinking I'll try #3!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

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