Friday, August 19, 2016

5 Things I Learned about STEM from First Graders!

After a few years with upper elementary grades, I am in the midst of a new adventure! I will now have first and second graders! Oh my! Let's just say this is a tad scary.....
But, a few surprises came my way during the first days with the very smallest engineers.
We built bridges!

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!
I really wanted to dive right in with a STEM building event because I knew these little engineers would not sit still and listen for as long as my big kids. So, we watched a "Crash Course" video about Engineers which included a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. This gave us a good way to talk about bridges and then kids went to their tables. Each child had ten counting cubes and four craft sticks. All I told them was, "Build a bridge." I did not tell them each one of them should build the bridge, but that is what they did (and it's what I expected.)

Here are the things I didn't expect!



First Grade STEM: After each student built their individual bridges and we shared them, I then asked them to put all their materials together and build one big bridge. Cceck this blog post for more!
After each student built their individual bridges and we shared them, I then asked them to put all their materials together and build one big bridge. Some groups actually cheered when they discovered they would be able to join the materials! Look at the photo above. That group actually talked about what jobs each would have, "You be the snapper and I will be road layer, and then Carlie can straighten it when it gets crooked." It was fairly amazing to see the kids work together and talk about what they were doing!



First Grade STEM: You would think that all their bridges would look alike since the materials are so limited. But, they built amazing little bridges with ramps and turns and extras- extras like a team that built a boat to go with their bridge! Check this blog post for more!
Another unexpected thing! I had no idea if they could build a bridge with those wonky materials, but just look at that photo. Another thing, you would think that all their bridges would look alike since the materials are so limited. But, they built amazing little bridges with ramps and turns and extras- extras like a team that built a boat to go with their bridge!



First Grade STEM: Some groups that made ramps because, "You have to drive up on the bridge!" There were some kids that used extra cubes to hold the ramps in place since they did tend to slide. Check this blog post for more!
Speaking of ramps! Yes, there were some groups that made ramps because, "You have to drive up on the bridge!" There were some kids that used extra cubes to hold the ramps in place since they did tend to slide.
Some even had ramps right in the middle of their bridges and when students pointed out that the ramps in the middle would lead straight into the water I heard this, "Well, you know, bridges don't have to be over water!"



First Grade STEM: Some kids wanted a double-decker bridge with stacking roadways. The bridge in the top photo shows what kids did often. They pulled apart the cubes and slid the craft stick between cubes to hold it in place. Check this blog post for more!
Some kids wanted a double-decker bridge with stacking roadways. The bridge in the top photo shows what kids did often. They pulled apart the cubes and slid the craft stick between cubes to hold it in place. Y'all these are first graders! I thought that was pretty genius!



First Grade STEM: They talked about the task, they solved problems when things would not stay in place, and they rebuilt when they got knocked down. They were fabulous! Read more on this blog post!
Total engagement! I knew this! I have STEM with upper grades and they are always almost 100% engaged with tasks. The little engineers were, too! They talked about the task, they solved problems when things would not stay in place, and they rebuilt when they got knocked down. They were fabulous!

This was the easiest little opening challenge and the first graders taught me a lot! I taught them what the word precarious means! (As in Don't Bump the Table!)

Go visit Doodlebugs Teaching for more blog posts!

Come back soon for more of:


10 comments :

  1. I love this activity! Did each student get 4 wide popsicle sticks and 8 cubes?

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    1. I replied by email but thought I would also answer here in case anyone else needed this info! The students were given 10 cubes and 4 craft sticks and the only thing I told them was to build a bridge. Fabulous!

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  2. I love to read about your STEM adventures! Our first day is next Wednesday and I already have our first STEM activity planned for Thursday. I can't wait!

    Angela

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  3. Great Activity! It looks like lots of learning took place.

    Sue
    The Very Busy Kindergarten

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  4. Awesome! It's great seeing STEM activities for the lower grades on your blog--I modify down ideas that you have for third graders to second, but so many that you do are so sophisticated (don't get me wrong, I still love looking at those)!

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    1. Aw, thanks Lisa! I will be featuring more about the little kids. Right now we are still learning about how STEM will work! My second graders built those same bridges and we also did some team building activities. As we move on into the school year I will figure out how to add some background to the challenges and maybe some reading! Thanks for visiting!

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  5. I love this idea and I want to try it with my kinders!

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    1. Hi Cristina! Your kinders will love this little challenge. They need ten cubes and 4 craft sticks and just tell them to build a bridge. We did watch a video first that talked about engineers and showed a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge! Have fun!

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  6. We will be having a school wide STEM project withe k-4 students, and I think this would be perfect for our k-1 kiddos. Would you share the link to the video you shared with the first graders?

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    1. Absolutely! Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owHF9iLyxic

      Just do a search at You Tube for Crash Course for Kids and you can find more videos made by this same person!

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Hey Friends! I love to read comments and I do try, try, try to reply to everyone! I reply by email- unless you are a "No-Reply" blogger!