Weird Science with Chocolate and Marshmallows

Today's post is all about our latest and most fun STEM challenge ever!

And I know I say that about all of them!

But I mean it this time. This one is topped only by building boats and roller coasters. It's about building little ovens and testing them and then cooking something in them!


What kind of box do we use?

First, of all I needed boxes. A local restaurant offered to give me some pizza boxes and I had a gazillion shoe boxes, but in the end, I ordered a supply from Amazon.com. Cause you can buy anything from Amazon and you get it the next day. So, I got this very heavy box with 100 pizza boxes in it.

Will this really work?

STEM Challenge: Can you really use the sun's heat to toast a treat? Yes, you can! It works surprisingly well!
Can this actually work? After the huge box of pizza boxes came I sure hoped this challenge would work. Otherwise, I would have a large supply of unused, sad pizza boxes.

Then I had another thought. It's only going to take about four and a half minutes to build this and then ten or so to cook the stuff and my class lasts for an HOUR.

So, of course, I had to add some science to the whole process. We ended up doing some experimenting first with different kinds of materials to reflect or absorb heat. Kids kept data charts of the changes in temperature. We had to use a thermometer inside the box and check the beginning and ending temperatures.

I THEN LEARNED A REALLY BIG THING!

Third graders do not know how to read a thermometer.

So, that added some more to our class time because I had to get each group to tell me the reading on their thermometer and then I checked to see what it really was. Because 220 degrees inside the classroom did seem a wee bit over the actual temp.

Yeah, it was really 76 degrees.

STEM Challenge: Experiment with different heat reflecting or heat absorbing materials to see just how to make the solar oven work best!
So, after that, we took our ovens outside to test them.

That's when I LEARNED ANOTHER REALLY BIG THING.

Kids don't really care if their experiment is laying on DIRT.
Dirt, people. They put their stuff down right on the dirt. Never mind, that there was grass available.
STEM Challenge: Just how long does the solar oven need to soak up the sun? Can we play on the playground while they are baking?
But, anyway, we soaked up some sun and then checked the temps and they did go up! One even went up to 98 degrees. Pretty impressive for a pizza box.So we tested some more materials and talked about what made the temps go up and then we tried it all again.

Finally, finally, finally we ready to cook something!

STEM Challenge: This task involves some experimentation with finding the right materials to use for the solar oven. Then you cook!
We layered up some s'mores goodies and trooped back outside to see if it would turn into a gooey delicious mess.

STEM Challenge: Finally, we have experimented and the ovens have done their work! Time to enjoy our desserts!
And of course, we ate the stuff when we came back inside. So, did this work? Does it really matter?
We ate chocolate and crackers and marshmallows and did some science! And it lasted for the whole one hour class!

Sounds good to me!

Also, here is a link to the pizza boxes I ordered. It's an Amazon Affiliate link (which means a few pennies come my way when you order).




2

5 Best STEM Challenges! (According to the Kids)

I have lost count of how many STEM Challenges we have completed! It's a huge number and it has been so much fun. So, which ones have been our favorites?

I decided to recap the last three years of STEM class by writing about the best challenges we have tried---
according to the KIDS!

The challenges  I am sharing today are the ones kids LOVE and beg to do again - a lot. Like weekly.
Like,

 "When are we making pancakes again?"

Seriously!

So, let's take a look at the TOP 5 STEM Challenges ever- according to KIDS!
STEM Challenges: Ask the students about their favorite STEM tasks and these five are the ones they will mention! They love these! You will, too!


Roller Coasters

STEM Challenge: This one is a kid favorite! Using foam tubes students try many versions and then design a marble coaster with twists, turns, and loops!
Of course, this is number ONE! I have not yet found a kid that didn't love this one. When we use this challenge with kids I have them do some experimenting first and then they get to build a model. I do have rules about the model- it has to have a certain number of turns and loops.

These are fun, kids give them a name, and they absolutely love demonstrating them with the entire class! Trust me, if one group makes a giant loop, every group will try it. If one group makes a completely vertical drop, then all of them will try it. They just want to have the most outrageous model ever! Total kid fun! (I might add that there is a lot of science involved in this challenge: force and motion, Newton's Laws, scientific method, and the engineering design process!)
More details about Roller Coasters {HERE}.


Pancakes

STEM Challenge: Kids love this one because it involves food! After testing a recipe to determine the right amount of ingredients kids design the ultimate pancake -- and eat it!
This challenge is number 2, but for some kids, it is even better than roller coasters! I guess the ones that love it must love pancakes!
In this one I have kids experiment with different versions of the pancake ingredients and they keep data tables to show results of each trial. In the end, they use the data to determine the best recipe and then we make it. And eat it. And they bring toppings. And eat until they are groaning! (There is so much science behind this one and math: chemical reactions, measuring liquids and solids, mixing, and cooking!)
More details about Pancakes {HERE}.

Boats

STEM Challenge: This one is on our best challenges list because all kids love it. After building a boat students test it with weights! How many pennies can it hold? It all depends on the boat's design!
Every kid loves building boats which makes it #3. I am just not sure why, but they love to build them and watch them sink. We add weights to them and keep track of the number. I know the competition is part of why they love this challenge! It's super easy to prep for this and the materials for the boat are easy-peasy, too! I love this one because kids choose the materials based on using a budget!  (Science: floating and sinking, measuring, engineering design process, and budgeting.)
More details about Boats {HERE}.

Bungee Jumping

STEM Challenge: Kids really enjoyed this challenge. They tested the bungee jumping doll at many heights and kept data tables. The data was plotted on a graph and kids used it to determine a predicted height for a much higher jump! Did Barbie survive?
Oh, my goodness, Barbie bungee jumping is number 4! I knew I would like this challenge, but kids did, too! We experimented with dropping from many heights and kept extensive data. This included graphing the results of the drops which included averaging the distances. The graph was used to predict the length of the bungee cord that would be needed to drop Barbie from a much higher distance. This was such a great challenge for teamwork- one kid dropped Barbie, one kept the data, and others did the averaging and graphing. (Science and math are covered in this one: force and motion, Newton's laws, averaging numbers, graphing, and using data.)
More about Bungee Jumping {HERE}.

Catapults

STEM Challenge: Another kid favorite! There is just something fantastic about making catapults! This challenge has the added benefit of testing and keeping data on the catapult distances. Kids then use their data to build versions of the catapult to complete distance challenges.
Coming in at number 5 is Catapults. Kids love these almost as much as roller coasters. First, they experiment with different angles of catapults made by the number of cross beams added to the model. Then that data is used to build models that will launch a projectile the longest distance or over an obstruction. (Yes, I squeezed some science and math into this one, too! It's: force and motion, Newton's laws, measuring, averaging numbers, using data, and predicting.)
More about Catapults {HERE}.

So, there you have it! These are the top five STEM challenges we have completed- as voted on by my students. They love them and I made sure they included science and math.
Come back in two weeks and check out the "TOP FIVE CHALLENGES from MY Point of View!
My favorites are different from the kids!



6

An Excellent Way to Get Started - STEM Mystery Builds

What would happen if you gave groups of kids the same building materials, but then told each team to build something different? How cool would it be to see how they used the materials for several different structures?

This is an idea that I have been mulling over for quite some time. I wanted to do something that would have each group building something different.

So, I did try this- with mixed results. The original challenge was that each group would use the exact same supplies, but each would build a different structure. This ended up being rather wasteful since some of the materials were not needed for every task (and kids will try to use them anyway!) So, I re-thought it and came up with a brand new and amazing plan! Take a look!
STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget! FREEBIE!

I call it a Mystery Build! Here's the premise of this one: Each group will receive a task card describing what will be built along with the rules for each task. Then each group gets a price list of the materials that are available. They must decide exactly what they need and stay within a budget.
My third graders LOVED THIS!

First, they received their task cards!

STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget!  Each group receives a task card listing the rules of the task! FREEBIE!
This one is hand written because this was a test class! Later, I made these fancier!

Next, they filled out their price list.

STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget!  Each group must choose materials and stay on budget! FREEBIE!
Of course, they had to be mindful of the budget and they could get more materials- only if they still had money left!
STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget!  Each group must choose materials and stay on budget! FREEBIE!
Then they started building whatever their task card said to build. 
Just take a look at this deliciousness!

The Structures

STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget! A rocking chair is one of the tasks! FREEBIE!
This task was to build a rocking chair that would actually rock. It also had to hold weights!

STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget! A rocket is one of the tasks! FREEBIE!
This task was to build a rocket. It had to resemble a rocket. This team spent a lot of time decorating their rocket ship! Look at that little flag!

STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget! A marble run is one of the tasks! FREEBIE!
This task was to build a small marble run. So, of course, this team made sure to purchase some cardboard tubes!

STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget! A bridge is one of the tasks! FREEBIE!
This task was to build a bridge and the span had to be a certain width.
STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget! The bridge span task has a rule about its width! FREEBIE!


STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget! A tower is one of the tasks! FREEBIE!
This tower had to be a certain height and hold weight.
STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget! The tower task must hold weight! FREEBIE!


STEM Challenge Mystery Build: Each team builds something different. They must choose the materials needed for the task and stay within a budget! A swing set is one of the tasks! FREEBIE!
And, my favorite was the swing set- which had to hold Lego man and he had to actually swing!
This was totally amazing fun and made the kids think SO HARD! Choosing the right materials for their task and staying on a budget was really interesting to watch. In the end, we had presentations during which each group shared their specific task constraints and then show off the structure.

Best News for YOU! 

This Mystery Challenge is a freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and you can grab it right {HERE}

0

Five Ways to Add STEAM to Your Science Class!

The last year I taught in a regular classroom was one we filled with art! I found a website that included step-by-step instructions for directed drawings and shared these with my projector. The kids loved our art time. And we displayed some fabulous drawings and paintings.

I do find occasionally that the design part of STEM just naturally turns into artwork. Today's post is all about some particular things we have tackled that just work great as art tasks- maybe with some math or science thrown in!

STEM Challenges that turn into STEAM- Here are five ways your can add some art to your STEM and science classes!
So, let's take a look at how you can add some art to your science and math classes!

Kaleidoscopes

This is a terrific little project I have been using with kids for a really long time. I call them kaleidoscopes. The finished product is a great review and/or use of symmetry and geometry!.
STEAM Activity: Kids draw one shape and then trace it seven times to form a symmetrical figure. Color it with bright colors and you have a kaleidoscope!
Kids start with a blank piece of paper and fold it into a triangle. They draw a design on one triangle and then open the paper and fold it in half. The half sheet is placed on a window so you can use the light to see through the paper. Then the kids trace one triangular space at a time. If they connect their lines carefully all the triangles are joined into a symmetrical drawing. Next, they use bright colors to finish the design. You can read more about this right {HERE} and this post has complete directions for how to make these. They turn out spectacular!

Sculptures

One day last spring I came across a stash of clay in gorgeous colors and this is what we did with it.
Kids picked a random card telling them what to sculpt and then they could pick the clay colors they thought would form the sculpture.
STEAM Activity: Give kids an randomly chosen card telling them what to sculpt. They must choose the colors for that given task and then make it!

Aren't these fabulous? The good thing about clay is that it doesn't dry out so we were able to recycle the sculptures when they began to fall over. Great little artists!

Posters

This is one of my favorite long-term term projects we do in the STEM Lab. It takes three to four weeks to complete! Kids form large groups and the task is to create a food delivery company.
Teams within each group have different jobs. One team designs the delivery box. Look at some of these in the photo below!
STEAM meets STEM in this fabulous design challenge as students create a food delivery company, design delivery boxes, posters, and create a commercial.
The food delivery company in the top left is the Freaky Fast Potatoes. Then you have the Hot Pink Potatoes on the right and at the bottom is Potato Express!

The box team must design a box that protects the food product and keeps it hot. So, we actually cook baked potatoes and test them with thermometers. Pretty cool stuff!

Another team within the group must design billboards for the company. Check out the one just below that even has an Instagram account!
STEAM meets STEM in this fabulous design challenge as students create a food delivery company, design delivery boxes, posters, and create a commercial.
In the end the third team within the group has written a script and the entire group must perform a commercial for the food delivery company! Lots of artwork going on in this challenge!

Dream Houses

My fourth graders LOVE this Area and design challenge. It's all about designing your dream house.
STEAM Challenge: Design your dream house using graph paper and a great imagination!
Let me say this quickly: I did not invent this activity. I will share with you in just a few more words where you can grab this- FOR FREE!

Step-by-step----- 1) Draw the outline of your dream house.  2) Fill in the inside walls, making sure all walls meet at right angles.  3) Give each room a name and be creative! Color them, too! 4) Calculate the area of each room by listing them all on your data table and then calculate the area of your entire house.

Y'all this is the most fun! The kids love it. But, here's where some real learning takes place. If each square on the grid paper is a square foot, then their final houses are less than 600 square feet in size! So, all those kids that made indoor swimming pools, Starbucks, shopping malls, and Disney World are really having an eye-opening moment. Especially when I tell them the square footage of our STEM lab- which is 1500 square feet.

Their little faces are so perplexed when they realize their entire house will fit inside the lab.
Of course, then we have a discussion about scale and they are very encouraged to learn that the grid paper squares could represent square yards, or 6 foot squares!
Okay, here is where you can grab this really fun little activity:
A little STEAM challenge in the lab- Design your dream house and calculate its area! Fabulous FREEBIE by Blair Turner!
It's by Blair Turner and you can click on the image or {HERE} to grab this!

Lego

So, one day right about Christmas time I knew a room full of excited little third graders would be coming soon for a STEM event. However, I knew they were too excited about Santa and parties and gifts and reindeer for our normal class, so I threw together a little building activity I call STEM Buffet.

And it just happened to use a material I have 10 shoe boxes full of.....LEGO!
STEAM Challenge: It's called STEM Buffet! Give each group and box of LEGO and a card telling them what to build. Work for 5 minutes, share, and then rotate to a new box and new task! Great fun and perfect for a sub day!
I could have made this a free build time, but I decided to make it interesting. I made a little index card for each table telling the group at that table what to build! Since it was almost Christmas I made all the cards have a Christmas theme- like Build Santa's Workshop, Build a house with lights, Build a house decorated for Christmas, Build Santa's sleigh, and so on.
The kids came in, opened their box of LEGO, grabbed the card, and set out to build whatever the card said. After 6 minutes each group shared, took apart their creation, and rotated to the next table.
THEY LOVE THIS!

Try it and it doesn't have to be related to Christmas at all. It gives your little sculptural, artistic architects a fun way to show off!

Add some artwork! Kids love it!


3

It's Time for Another Bulletin Board Tutorial!

Hello STEM and Science Friends! This weekly post of mine is almost always about the STEM tasks we are currently doing. Sometimes the post is about something we did a long time ago. Sometimes it's a Book Review day!

And sometimes it's about Bulletin Boards! It's a popular topic and I know why! We LOVE to decorate those boards! 

Okay, maybe not so much! Anyway, I have shared some of my fabulous boards and I am featuring a new one today!
I promise this one is easy!

Science Bulletin Boards: Here's an easy and fun way to decorate a board for your science classroom!

So, here you go, step-by-step!

Choose the Pictures

Science Bulletin Boards: Here's an easy and fun way to decorate a board for your science classroom! Step 1 is to choose the pictures!
First, this bulletin board features a lot of pictures or photos. One idea is to give your students a camera and have them snap whatever science means to them and use those photos. That sounded like a fabulous idea to me, but my bulletin board is seriously 7 feet long and 3.5 feet tall so that many photos was out of my cost range! So, I started going through old science files and workbooks. I found several old science related calendars and a couple of really old textbooks and BAM I had my photos. I just selected the best ones and most colorful. I chose about 30 and trimmed them with a paper cutter.

Add a background color to your photos.

Science Bulletin Boards: Here's an easy and fun way to decorate a board for your science classroom! Step 2 is to make backgrounds for your pictures!
Second, the photos need to be mounted on dark paper. I cut black construction paper in a square and then glued the photos in place.

You also need to make the letter cards. The word SCIENCE is spelled out on the bulletin board in symbols from the Periodic table. You will need those symbols and corresponding numbers for your letter cards.

I printed my letter cards by making a power point of the symbols on a black background and then printed this on a copier. When these were all finished I also laminated them!

Experiment with laying the photos until you find the arrangement you want!

Science Bulletin Boards: Here's an easy and fun way to decorate a board for your science classroom! Step 3 is take your finished pictures and decide on a layout for them!
Third, decide how you want to arrange your letter cards and photo cards. I spread these all out on my floor and just kept moving them around until I had the arrangement I liked. (It kind of reminded me of setting up a gallery wall in my house....)

How would you keep the rows of photos even?

Science Bulletin Boards: Here's an easy and fun way to decorate a board for your science classroom! Step 4 is to hang your pictures on your board, but they do need to be in a straight line!
Fourth, it's time to go to the board. First, I covered it with a light blue paper and a neutral border. Then I had to measure the leftover space and calculate the placement of all those cards.

This took some work, I will say. I wanted them all to be as even as possible. I think mine ended up being an inch and a half apart horizontally and an inch apart vertically.

Well, then my OCD-ness really kicked in because I knew that when I started in one corner that by the time I got to the other side my straight line would be angling downhill. So, I tacked up a string along the top line to use as a guide!

All Finished! 

Science Bulletin Boards: Here's an easy and fun way to decorate a board for your science classroom! Step 5 is to admire the finished board!
I used a ruler to measure the distances between each card and it's pretty straight, but not perfect. Some of my cards turned out somehow slightly not the same shape.

But I love it anyway.

Science Bulletin Boards: Here's an easy and fun way to decorate a board for your science classroom! Science Rocks!
It makes a spectacular display! One of these days I will repeat this with the same idea but use pictures I have taken of my students completing STEM Challenges. On that note, you could change this up for just about anything.

Here's an idea- make your letter cards spell READ and show photos of your students reading books!
OR make the letter cards spell History and have photos of your kids dressed up as their historical book report characters.

The possibilities for this one are endless!

Need more ideas for a science bulletin board: Try these blog posts!


You can also take a look at my Bulletin Board Pinterest Board:

0

5 Things You Can Do Today to Manage Time Better

The title of this post sounds promising, right? Well, I hope I can give you some ideas. We all need ways to manage time and tasks and keep from being overwhelmed. These are hints that work for me to help balance my classroom, my online teacher store, and my real life (housework)!

Keep in mind that all of this is a constant work in progress for me, but one or two or all of these tips might be just what you are looking for. I'm not an expert, but I do rely on so many bloggers and TpTers to lead me in the right direction.  So, if you are a teacher-blogger that also has a TpT store this might be a post just for you. Let's get started!

BUSY Teachers- Here are some tips just for you! If you are a TpTer trying to juggle your teaching job, TpT business, and social media, this post might help!

Let me repeat this: I am not an expert, but I can share some things with you that are working for me. 

Scheduling Services

Tips for TpT Teachers: Tip#1 is use a scheduling service for Pinterest. Devote an hour to scheduling and then don't worry about it a while!

This is a tip I heard during last year's TpT conference. Since Pinterest is a main source for advertising TpT products I investigated this right away and started using Tailwind. You can use this for a trial period for free to see what you think. The service will use your pinning history and suggest times that are optimum for you and your business. You sync your Pinterest account to Tailwind and then you can click on any of your pins and schedule when you want them to appear. You can schedule the pins to several places all with one or two clicks. Pros for this program: you can schedule in advance for as long as you like. I try to stay about a month ahead. You choose the time slots for pins to appear at your optimum times. You have tons of analytics you can use to make decisions about how Pinterest is performing for you.  Cons: It's not free to take advantage of the entire program and the free trial version limits how many pins you can schedule. Click {HERE} to read more about it.

If you are a TpTer and rely on Pinterest as a marketing tool, I would really suggest you try a pinning scheduling service. 

Can you schedule Instagram?

Instagram - This fun little app can't be scheduled, but there is a way to  schedule posts in another phone app! Find out how!
Okay, well the easy answer is NO! Instagram doesn't have that feature. But, there are several apps that allow you do this.

One is called Later. Grab this on your iPhone and try it. Here's what you do. Open the app and add a photo you want to use on Instagram. You can even add the caption you want for the photo. You can add hashtags, but these are more easily added once you transfer this to Instagram because IG remembers them for you!

Now, here's the scheduling part. Right there on the phone app, you can pick a date and time you want to post this photo. Save the work. When it's time to post this, Latergram will send you a notification.
Open the app, choose the photo, and click to send it to IG. The photo will appear in your IG account. Paste your caption in (Later automatically copies it for you), add your hashtags, and post.
I will be honest and tell you that I was not sure I would like this, and then I discovered something.
I can access my account on my computer! So, I can edit my captions using a real keyboard instead of that tiny thing on my iPhone! You can even add photos from your computer and type your captions.
Here's another great feature on the computer version.

The top photo shows you my scheduled photos in a calendar format. If you want to move something you just click and drag and the date and time are updated.
Latergram.me is a fun app that lets you schedule Instagram posts, send you a reminder, and copies your info to IG so you post it!
The bottom photo is showing a scheduled post and the caption box that I can type in using a computer rather than the phone app.

Now, I know what you are thinking! Scheduling photos takes the fun out of Instagram! Here's a good reason I like the schedule- Sometimes I take a photo and plan to post it later and then forget to and about two weeks later I find the picture and then I'm mad. Now, I just add it to Latergram and schedule it. It's just a great reminder to get it done!

UPDATE: I am now using Smarter Queue for scheduling Instagram posts. It works a lot like the app called Later. I like SQ a lot- and it's a service schedule I use for Facebook. Since I am already paying for it, I started using the Instagram feature. I like it because I set my own schedule on the computer and can add time slots to that schedule. I add photos from my phone and I receive a notification when it's time to send it to Instagram.

Plan your blog posts!

Blogger Tip 3: Use a calendar to track your blog titles and link posts so you can spread your posts over a whole month. This will let you see the gaps in posting so you can add something when you need to!

This seems like such a simple thing to do and you probably already do it! Here's the story. I was going back through some old blog posts and found that I sometimes repeat topics and I wished I had kept a better list of my ideas. That led me to create some tracking forms that I fill out now, but it also led me to plan a whole month of blog posts at a time. I use a really inexpensive (like $3) Wal-mart calendar planner for this- nothing fancy. Take a look:
Blogger Tip 3: Use a calendar to track your blog titles and link posts so you can spread your posts over a whole month. This will let you see the gaps in posting so you can add something when you need to!
I just jot the blog type and title and that helps me know what I have planned for the month.
This also helps me not add too many things too close together. I tend to always do a Wednesday post and a Friday, but I do throw in random things occasionally. So, get yourself a cheap calendar just for your blog! Add titles and check it off if it is written and scheduled, and use a Flair pen to make it cute.

Prewrite and schedule blog posts!

Blogger tip: Schedule posts! Work on them when you have time, save those drafts, and then schedule them when all polished!

Are you a spontaneous blogger? I am not! I like to work on my posts in bits and pieces and I may even have several posts drafted and in progress at the same time. I use my posting calendar and plan the whole month and then start the posts. When these are written, linked, have photo captions, and have been proofread I schedule them. I usually have 3-4 scheduled posts just waiting for their date.
So, how does this save or manage my time? Easy-peasy I have one day a week that Blogging is on my to-do list. I spend one hour on posts and then stop. In that one hour, I can finish and schedule a lot!

Why only one hour?
Keep reading!

Schedule your time!

TpTer and blogger tip: Set a timer to keep yourself focused. Work intently until the timer sounds and then you can scroll through your Instagram feed!
I promise this is how I manage my time!

Everything has a time limit. (Well, not everything, but you get what I am saying!) I set a timer on my phone and do not take a break until that timer goes off. Then I move on to the next task. I generally spend only an hour on big tasks. So, blog posts, working on a new product, and any school work is a one hour task. Scheduling IG posts or Pinterest is a 30-minute block once each week. On the weekends I add house work to this! For me this makes me focus on the task at hand and not get caught up in checking my mail or flipping through endless pages of Facebook or pins or IG or watching one YouTube video after another. When my timer sounds I get up, move a little, drink some water, and check all the social media things I can think of- but I time that, too!

I hope at least one of these tips is encouraging for you and something you will check into!
Links to scheduling services are my affiliate links. For Tailwind you receive a $15- $30 credit for signing up and so do I! For Smarter Queue your free trial length is doubled for trying the service.


You can also find tons more tips for your TpT business on my Tips and Tricks board on Pinterest!
Have a great weekend!
3

Some Guaranteed Ways to Make Newton's Laws Easy

How do you display your classroom agenda? I have an easel right outside my door that lists what each grade level is doing and recently it said.
"It's Newton Week!"
The kids came in very excited, maybe more excited than I thought they would be. Then I heard a little voice saying, 
"I think it's a football challenge."
What in the world? They thought Newton was Cam Newton. I quickly explained who the real Newton is and we set off on a week-long adventure into the Laws of Motion!


STEM Challenges all about Newton's Laws of motion! Students design and build devices to prove a law of motion! Three fun challenges!

Each grade level had a different project!

THIRD GRADE

The littles tackled the Second Law of Motion. Specifically, they explored using a car on a ramp! Would changing the angle of the ramp produce a greater force on the car? 
Newton also says that more weight produces a need for more force! Would this hold true for our little cars if we placed something heavy inside them- maybe, like an egg?
STEM Challenge: Students build a car and experiment with changing the angle of a ramp and then add weight to the car! The weight just happens to be an egg!
The biggest obstacle with this challenge was in building the car! The car body itself was fairly simple! It was attaching the axle and wheels that created a problem to solve! Great fun!
STEM Challenge: Attaching wheels to a car presents some frustrations until finally it works! Proving Newton's 2nd Law of Motion!
The wheels would sometimes roll and then malfunction. We learned that cutting the wheels out of the cardboard required a steady hand and those wheels better be round!
STEM Challenge: Students build a car and experiment with changing the angle of a ramp and then add weight to the car! The weight just happens to be an egg!
Finally, the cars were tested on the ramps. Some rolled down and some slid down. A few cars overturned and spilled the egg onto the floor! We practiced this with a plastic egg, but in our final demonstrations, we used REAL ones! Only one cracked!
STEM Challenge: Students build a car and experiment with changing the angle of a ramp and then add weight to the car! The weight just happens to be an egg!


FOURTH GRADE:

My 4th graders tackled the third law of motion! For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This one also produced some cheering and groaning when balloons popped or fizzled instead of projecting the balloon cars!
STEM Challenge: Prove Newton's 3rd Law of Motion with bottle cars! Let the races begin!
Of course, this one also involved making wheels and attaching the axles to the bottle car body. The biggest problem we ran into with this one is that the wheels were too small to be placed in the center of the car body. The kids learned the hard way to place the axle low on the body of the car!
STEM Challenge: Prove Newton's 3rd Law of Motion with bottle cars! Let the races begin!
My favorite car was one that the team wanted to be smaller. So, we cut the water bottle into three pieces. They joined the top and bottom for a mini-car! Unfortunately, it didn't roll very well when the weight of the balloon was added to it! It was cute, though!
STEM Challenge: Prove Newton's 3rd Law of Motion with bottle cars! Let the races begin!
The cars were then raced on a foam track I built. We let every group demonstrate and then we set up side by side tracks and raced. It was quite noisy!
STEM Challenge: Prove Newton's 3rd Law of Motion with bottle cars! Let the races begin!


FIFTH GRADE:

My fifth graders were thrilled about this challenge. In fact, when I brought in a purchased Newton's Cradle they flocked around it excitedly. They were ready to start building one right then and there!
STEM Challenge: Prove Newton's 3rd Law of Motion by building a Newton's Cradle. Only a few supplies and start clacking away!
Lots of big problems with this one! First, you had to build a frame. I had lots of ideas for this, but almost every group went with a craft stick frame which was hot-glued together!

Yep, kids and glue guns.... I amaze myself with this kind of bravery, but y'all they did fine!
STEM Challenge: Prove Newton's 3rd Law of Motion by building a Newton's Cradle. Only a few supplies and start clacking away!
I have strict rules about glue guns and constantly monitor them and they really do use them safely and correctly. 

The second big problem was attaching the marbles to the string, but we solved this with glue. The last problem was attaching the strings to the frame and we did this by tying the strings or gluing them on place.
Some finished models are below. Yes, they did work pretty well!
STEM Challenge: Prove Newton's 3rd Law of Motion by building a Newton's Cradle. Only a few supplies and start clacking away!

Finally, I made a little video of these challenges so you could see the action of each. Here ya go:

So, what have you been up to in your Science class?
How do you announce what's on your agenda? My easel is one that shares the week's projects and other important dates or announcements. The kids love glancing at it to see what we are up to!


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