How to Teach Your Classroom Rules with STEM

Are you a brag tag user? Or do you have a clip chart? What is your method of working with behavior management? Many years ago I participated in an assertive management class. This was the popular method of classroom behavior management at that time. (Remember "pulling cards"?)

The one thing I learned was that every single thing you want kids to do as far as classroom procedures, must be taught and practiced - in the same way you would teach a reading skill or a math concept.

Amazing.

So, how does this apply to the STEM Lab? Much the same way. We learn procedures and practice them. This year I decided to do this and add a little STEM Challenge to it!

We called it The Rules Challenge!
STEM Challenge for Back to School! Students choose a rule of your classroom and build a structure to model it!




What better way to learn the classroom (or lab) rules than a STEM challenge!!

I had each class come in and complete a "Scavenger Hunt" first. This made them explore the room and especially the board with our rules posted on it!

What are our rules?

A few years ago I created rules posters for our lab and made them with cute scientists and used colors that matched the decor. This year I made a new set with these funny little dot people and I loved them so much I made a set for my classroom.
STEM Challenge for Back to School! Students choose a rule of your classroom and build a structure to model it!
The funny thing is that so many kids made dot people figures as part of their Rules Model. It became a cute joke to say that they were making "stick" people!

For each question on the scavenger hunt answered correctly the team would receive a specific material for the challenge. We used foil, cups, craft sticks, straws, and construction paper.

Planning

Time for kids to plan their structure. Here's the task:

  • Choose one rule from the rules displayed in our lab. 
  • Your team will create a model that shows the rule in action.
  • Everybody sketches an idea and shares it.

STEM Challenge for Back to School! Students choose a rule of your classroom and build a structure to model it!
The two drawings above were completed by fourth graders. We always talk about how important it is to label our drawings. This challenge was one that took two class sessions which are one week apart. If you don't label those sketches you will forget what you were thinking!

STEM Challenge for Back to School! Students choose a rule of your classroom and build a structure to model it!

Kids completed their sketches and shared their ideas with their team. Next, each team created a job for each team member and then they got busy. In the photo above you can see teams starting to create their models. (By the way, the planning procedure we use is purposeful. If you missed the post about how we do this, you can click>>>>>>>HERE!)

Finished Models

After all teams were ready we had a sharing time. Each group told the rule they were representing and then showed us the model. It was really fun to see how they incorporated the rule in their structure.
STEM Challenge for Back to School! Students choose a rule of your classroom and build a structure to model it!
Above: The top photo is the rule "Wait for instructions before touching materials." The materials are on a shelf they built of craft sticks and the dot person is waiting to get things off the shelf.

In the bottom photo (above) the team has a cup and doughnut made of foil and there is a straw in the cup. They were showing the rule "No food or drink is allowed in the lab". Remember, the setup I used for this challenge was that the materials were earned based on a scavenger hunt. This team missed 4 of the 6 questions on the scavenger hunt paper and all they had was a piece of foil and 4 straws. They did pretty well with such limited items!

STEM Challenge for Back to School! Students choose a rule of your classroom and build a structure to model it!
In the above image, both teams chose the rule "Always wear safety goggles when they are needed." In the top photo, they team made a person holding a beaker that is spraying liquid (the orange paper) into the person's face. He needed goggles. The bottom photo is a set of goggles another team made!

STEM Challenge for Back to School! Students choose a rule of your classroom and build a structure to model it!
There were a lot of groups that opted to show the rules about cleaning up messes! Above you have a photo of a person throwing away trash. The second photo shows a spill, complete with liquid and ice cubes! In the corner, you can see the mop the kids made!

STEM Challenge for Back to School! Students choose a rule of your classroom and build a structure to model it!

Above are two more photos showing models of the cleaning rule. Each has brooms and dust pans to clean up messes!

This was such a fun challenge!

In fact, a fifth grader said this,
"When you told us about this challenge I thought it was going to be so boring. But this was a lot of fun!"
We learned the rules in a hands-on way! This worked so well in our STEM Lab, but it will work in a regular classroom, too!

If you already subscribe to my newsletter this challenge has been emailed to you - in advance of its premiere on TpT! If you are not a subscriber, you should do that now! You will get a planning freebie and some bonuses in the next few days by signing up today.

This challenge is posted in my TpT store for FREE! Click >>>>>>>>>HERE

 You can also grab the Dot People Rules posters!

Lab Safety rules featuring Dot Kids!


2 comments

  1. Thank you, Carol, for sharing this STEM activity. I added a cardboard base to the materials students could use to make the models easy to transport. Great way to introduce STEM and the design process! Fun too!

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    Replies
    1. Perfect idea! I use cardboard in a lot of STEM Challenges. I save boxes and then cut them into pieces when we need them! Thanks for visiting!

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