Soaring the Highest in the STEM Lab!

We are flying things around the STEM lab like crazy people!
Helicopters- Airplanes- and- Rockets! There is a purpose!

It's All About Helicopters, Airplanes, and Rockets, Oh My!
STEM Challenges: Three fabulous challenges all about flight. Each involves the scientific method, testing, and then analyzing results to build the ultimate helicopter, airplane, or rocket!

For most groups in STEM class this week it was time to analyze data gathered in last week's experiments and then design a flying craft using that data. We followed the Scientific Method and then finished up with an engineering design element! Doesn't that sound fabulous? We love combining the scientific method and then designing based on results. It's also real life, folks!


For Helicopters third grade students learned that medium sized paper with some weight added worked best. They determined this by experimenting with different weights of paper and also by adding things to the helicopter "blades". They decorated and flew their ultimate copters.
STEM: Kids are decorating the final design of their helicopters after testing many versions. Will it fly the best?

STEM Challenge: Kids create paper twirling helicopters and then test them in many sizes and weights of paper and then analyze results!
The helicopters are easy to cut out and fold and the most fun to fly. You just have to stand on a chair or table and let them go!
STEM Challenge: Kids create paper twirling helicopters and then test them in many sizes and weights of paper and then analyze results!
You can see a string in some of the photos. This was my way of "controlling" the experiment. See, I told you we were using the scientific method! One thing we discussed was that dropping the helicopters from different heights would alter our results, so kids had to use the height of that string to make that variable all the same for each experiment. Talk about learning some stuff!
Alright, that was third grade!


For fourth grade they completed airplane distance trials, shared their models, and then started working on the drawings of their ultimate airplanes. We are not quite to that part yet!
This worked in a similar way to the helicopter event. The paper airplanes were launched, distances measured, and then parts of the airplane were modified in some way. Then we launched and measured again. Next step was to take a look at all the models and try to determine which modifications produced the best flights. Most groups are now building the best version of an airplane and wew il launch those next week.
STEM Challenge: Paper airplanes! Kids test many versions by launching and recording flight distances. Planes are modified many times and then all the data is analyzed. Finally, the best version of a plane is produced! Will it fly the longest distance?
What do you think will happen?
Okay, that was fourth graders!


For fifth grade we analyzed rocket flights and determined that small amounts of water added to the "fuel" worked better than lots of water. They set about next to design the ultimate rocket with decorations, fins, and nose cones. This last design part happened after we had tested these rockets outside for two class sessions. We were using rocket fuel- alka seltzer tablets- in differing quantities and with different amounts of water to try to find the magic recipe for the best rocket launch.
STEM Challenge: Time for rockets! Using plastic canisters, effervescing tablets, and water, students test many versions of the rocket. Using the data gathered the next step is to design the best looking and highest flying rocket!
Each team now has an amount of the effervescing tablet and water that will make their rockets shoot the highest. They are adding decorations to make their rocket bodies look like real rockets.
STEM Challenge: Time for rockets! Using plastic canisters, effervescing tablets, and water, students test many versions of the rocket. Using the data gathered the next step is to design the best looking and highest flying rocket!
Their final rockets are really cute, but we are learning that adding weight with those supplies will become a factor in the flights.

These three flight STEM challenges are just spectacular. They each involve experimenting, controlling variables, modifying, more testing, analyzing the results, and then designing! Fabulous stuff!

If you'd like to see more about these fantastic flying machines you can click right here: 


Five for Friday! Flight Preview!

Hey Friends!
Can you tell school has begun?
It is so hard to keep everything going at this time of the year.

Some quick notes about my week because it's time for 

First thing I tried with ALL fifteen of my classes was a Team Building activity. I made the string contraption you see in this photo:

This center is a binder ring with about 15 strings fed through it. Each student holds one or two of the strings and the task is to lift the entire circle off the floor to about 3 feet high and then lower it -WITHOUT tilting the middle circle. After the class does this successfully I add something to the ring. I started with a tennis ball and then just got progressively harder and wobblier with the items. The photo shows a mini Pooh Bear being lifted.

Here's the ULTIMATE test that I placed in the center. 

Why, yes, that is a large bowl with a cup on top of it and a whiffle ball on top of the cup.
Yes, I had classes that could raise and lower this!

Y'all if you have never tried this you need to.
I wish I could show the photos with the kids' faces. They are concentrating SO hard! 

Are you ready for this??
I have three grade levels in the STEM Lab. Each is beginning the year with something to do with aerodynamics.
FIFTH grade is
This is so amazingly wonderful. They are testing variables to design the ultimate canister rocket. We were able to do some preliminary exploration this week. Next week we will test variables!

This is a group outside pouring water into their canister, dropping in the effervescing tablet (I LOVE the word effervescing!), snapping on the cap, and then placing the rocket on the ground.
Do you know how high these fly?

Okay, fourth grade! 
This grade level is testing variables with paper airplanes. I used this activity last year with fourth graders and this year's group came in the lab door asking when they would get to fly airplanes. It must have been a fun challenge! Here they are folding and flying:

Finally Third Grade!
This group is testing variables with helicopters.
I tried to get a picture of one in action but they spin so fast every shot was blurry.
They are loving these!

Next week every class will test specific variables and compile a large data table. The ultimate goal is to use the data and design a rocket, airplane, or helicopter that will fly the best.
We shall see.......

UPDATE: For more about the flights of each type of flying device check this post:
Five for Friday Oh My It's All About Flight!

I was explaining to a group of third graders that I have a terrible problem with remembering the names of kids and that I would probably not know all their names until about April. 

One little sweet guy said, "You know they make medicine that will help with that!"
When I asked what the medicine was he said, "I'm going to write it down for you cause I know you won't remember it!"

He handed me a little piece of paper a few minutes later.

The magic memory medicine is:


Have a great weekend!

Five Things About This Busy Week!

Subtitle: Five for Friday!

Hey y'all......exhausted here. School started for us this week and suddenly I realized I had a blog I was neglecting....jeez!
So, let me tell you about my week and what I learned- in five easy steps!

We tried a little thinking activity called "Think Fast"! Here's what you do:
Give your kids an alphabet letter and a topic. Then give them 2 minutes to list as many words and phrases as they can that begin with the letter and pertain to the topic. I have 15 lab classes so I am varying the letter each class gets. The topic Science! The letters? S-C-I-E-N-C-E!
The first class got the letter S and answered with things like, scientist, scientific method, supplies, snakes, solutions, and Star Trek. The second class got the letter C and answered: control, conclusion, collaborate, computer, and so on.
I am writing all the answers on 7 large pieces of chart paper- eventually the charts will spell out the word SCIENCE with all the little words! How cool is that!

What was most amazing about this activity is the way the kids used poster sets and our word wall to find answers! You can do this with any topic and any alphabet letter. It's also a great way to pre-assess!

Final pictures of lab decor!
Not quite a room reveal... but close!!

From top to bottom that is the entry to the lab, the Focus board (blocked by pet cages!), Engineer posters, and more posters, and one set of cabinets with Safety Rules posters!
Awesomeness! There is a so much more, but still a little messy, so I will take more pictures in a few days!

Who was your inspirational speaker for your Back to School Assembly?
 Ours was:
Amazing story, fantastic speaker. There were so many times, in our very large assembly of every teacher and staff member in the school system, that you could hear no sounds. Not even Shadrack. Just one collective body being still and quiet, waiting on him to compose himself and continue speaking. It was quite profound. (He escaped being killed in Ghana, as a baby, and then had to survive bullying and discrimination in American schools, failed two grades, and then met a hero teacher.)
Here'a a link to a short YouTube video. It does not tell his story, but will definitely give you some ideas of his character.

Our second day of official school for teachers was August 5th.
That just happens to be a very important date for me.
That's the day my precious oldest child was born.
The red sign in the photo is his birthday sign. I made that right before his first birthday and hang it on the front porch every year on his day! The number at the bottom shows his age-we just change the numbers yearly. Every year we all stand with him by his sign and take photos. This picture was taken after it was dark outside so it is rather fuzzy. That's Nick, me, and Roo!  (Yes, he was 29!)

You didn't think I would let a week go by without some informational text, did you??

It is well known that cats like to get inside things. Why? They are testing the spot for a place to hide in order to leap out and attack anything that walks by.
This curious cat has been inside everything in my house. That's Wookee!

That's also Wookee. Not only does he get inside things , he gets on top of things. He is sitting on top of the chimney on top of my two story house.
I have no words of wisdom about this behavior.
Some things about cats are unexplainable....

Have a great weekend!

It's August! It's Currently Time!

Wow, again. I still cannot believe it's August!
I have had a busy, craft-filled, book-reading, poster-making, product-making, blogging summer.
I had my blog redesigned, met a whole kaboodle of new bloggers that I adore, helped my daughter set up her first grade classroom, adopted a new kitten, and almost went zip-lining.
None of that would fit the Currently topics, so I thought I'd just add it all at the top.....

Oh, Farley, Farley, Farley......thank you so much!
We love our Currently!

Here's My August!

I am LISTENING to my two younger cats have a complete overly-loud and extremely long cat-fight. They are not really fighting, just playing. Isn't it cool the way the older cat will "fight" with the kitten, but not hurt her.

Baby cat snoozin'

I am LOVING the weather in Alabama right now. We have had about a week of lower than normal temps. In fact, one morning it was in the mid-fifties. Unheard of! You can almost feel Fall in the air.....don't be fooled- it will back to 105 degrees next week with 8 million % humidity....

I am THINKING about how to get the attention of a large group of noisy kids in the lab! How do you get your students attention? In my old third grade class I flipped a light switch, clapped, or sang, "Oh Classy Class" to which the kids responded, "Yessy, Yes".  None of these work in the lab. Flipping the switch makes no visible difference to the amount of light in the room. They don't hear the clap or singing. I really think I need a bull horn.....

I am WANTING next week to be over. We have two days of inservice and meetings, Parent Night, and the first day. I dislike all of those things..... I just want normal days to be happening!

I am not NEEDING anything. Really, incredibly blessed and comfortable with everything right now. TJ Maxx just down the road, Wal-Mart around the corner, hubs is happy, daughter has a teaching job, son helps me whenever I screw up my computer, 3 sweet cats....what else do I need?

SCHOOL begins next week! Oh my!

Shall I leave you with a funny- a blast from the past- a Funny of the Week- once said in my old classroom.....

After lunch one day I was helping clear tables and noticed that most of the boys had not eaten one specific veggie.
 I said, “You guys did not eat your sweet potatoes!?” 
A couple of boys replied. “Those are yams!”

If you are beginning school next week, I wish you the best year ever!
If you are still on summer break, enjoy it friends.


Fabulous Last Friday!!

Wow, August.

What happened to June and July? I blinked and missed them....

But anyway it's my last Friday. School begins Monday! 

Thanks once again Doodle Bugs! The new blog design is awesome!!

I am listening to a book I have read twice and listened to already.
I am enjoying Outlander AGAIN! I just finished actually reading Diana Gabaldon's eighth book in her Outlander series. I have listened to the audio version of the first 6 books and just decided a few days ago to get the very first book from Audible and listen to it  AGAIN while I walk every day. It's awesome. You really should try the series.


Jamberry Nails!
Are you ready for this?

Okay, well, thank you so much to Christy at Crayons and Whimsy!
This quirky little set of Jamberry nails came from her after I mentioned that I didn't think it would work for me!
Well, they do work!
I have the teeny tiniest nails  and I am hoping covering them like this will help them grow a little. In the meantime it's impossibly cute! Even Hubs loved it!

I still have a few things to do in my classroom. I am taking some plants tomorrow to hang. Then I need to just straighten things up a little. The lab is mostly ready. The real work I need to do is planning for the first couple of weeks. I have some lists made of activities to start with- including rockets, helicopters, and airplanes.
Hmmmmm...I did not, really, did not plan for all three grade levels to do something aero-spacey.

QUICK QUIZ- Do you know what those things are in that photo????
I had a few of these in the lab last spring and had a child ask, "What are these cute little cans?"
"FILM once came in those cute little cans," I said. She blinked.
Then I remembered. Today's kids have never seen film. They think phones take pictures.
Anyhow, I needed more of these and  finally found them on Amazon. You can buy anything on Amazon.


It is often too hot in Alabama in the summer and playing is brutal. This week, however, the high temp has been 80 degrees! It's like an Arctic blast.

Anyway, we are playing this afternoon and maybe tomorrow! Especially since our out-of-town trip this weekend is being postponed. (Our fur-baby sitter was not available!)

Just so you will know, I started playing golf because of the cute skirts.....

Cat Facts of the Week!
Cats can read.
That is why they always come and sit on top of whatever you are reading. They are bored with chasing stuffed mice or balls with bells in them and they take time out to read.

The actually prefer the newspaper to read as it also doubles as a place to lie down.


Cats know, no matter how sweetly you call them, that the appearance of the PET TAXI means trouble. Older cats actually know to run off and hide.
Baby cats are quite easy to catch.

(Roo had some booster shots!)

Have a great weekend!
I am off to put together an aero-space extravaganza. I love that this idea just popped into my head as I was posting this! Ha!
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