Five for Friday- the Bridge Version!

Happy Friday and happy because next week is short!!

Don't forget to  join Kacey at Doodlebugs for Five for Friday!

So this is all about bridges.....one of our favorite activities in the lab!
STEM - This post is all about bridges we have built in the STEM Lab! So many different versions and all super fun (and full of learning)!

 First bridge we tried...

Okay, I know kids love making bridges. It's a challenge I have used with my science club years and years ago and then again in the STEM lab one year ago. For some reason, any time we build something and then test it by adding weights, kids go nuts. It's a competition thing, I think. They especially love it when they get to 100 pennies, because that is ONE DOLLAR! (They race across the lab to tell their friends- like one dollar is just so much....)

Anyway, the first bridge we tried last year was a platform bridge.

STEM Bridge: This is a platform bridge that uses only one materials! It's a lot more challenging than it looks. Kids will be intrigued at designing one that will hold the most weight!

This was super easy, one supply, and had unexpected results. The platform bridges held a lot of weight! The main thing we had to determine, however, is whether or not this is a bridge. I had kids do the research and here is what they found: 
Granted, it's not the Golden Gate Bridge, but it is a platform that appears to be solid on the bottom and still works as a bridge. We also thought decks and floating boat docks might be considered platform bridges.
You can see more details about Index Card Bridges {HERE}!

 Next Bridge!
We loved , loved this one. Well, who wouldn't? Two supplies, easy prep, and it took some brain power to determine how to connect all that and still have a structure to connect the two banks (tissue boxes). Then we placed a bowl on top and counted pennies into it. Total fun!

STEM Bridge- This bridge is made of two main materials. It must span a gap and hold weight. The real dilemma is in how to make those building materials less flimsy!
More details about Marshmallow Bridges, {HERE}!

Next Bridge!
Now this one had more supplies, but was still easy prep. The biggest dilemma was how to connect straws together. You might notice that the bridge in the photo has toothpicks stabbed through the straws- not the best of ideas. I did this bridge experience with  5th graders. 

STEM Bridge- Another great design challenge with building a bridge that will hold weight. The main materials are straws and toothpicks. The challenge is in how to use those materials together to span a gap!
Details about this bridge made of Toothpicks and Straws can be found {HERE}

Next up, the best ever, most amazing bridge!
This is one of best bridge building experiences. I created a homework video and put it on my classroom website! My fifth graders had to watch this and come to class prepared with ideas about building a suspension bridge.
I will have to tell you that I have not seen such excitement over anything we have done (even pancakes)!
STEM Bridge! Let's build a suspension bridge using craft sticks and glue! Can you add string to make it resemble a rel suspension bridge?

STEM Bridge! Let's build a suspension bridge using craft sticks and glue! Can you add string to make it resemble a rel suspension bridge?
The photos show two bridges in the beginning stages.
Here's a finished one!
STEM Bridge! Let's build a suspension bridge using craft sticks and glue! Can you add string to make it resemble a rel suspension bridge?
The Suspension Bridge details are {HERE}

Finally, do you think first graders can build bridges? YES, they can! I tried something with a group of littles that was just amazing.
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!
They used two materials and after watching a short video about engineers and talking about bridges they set out to build one!
You can try a post I wrote just about this experience right here:

Thanks for stopping by to read all about bridges.
You might also want to check my Pinterest board that is all about them!

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FIVE for Friday~ FIVE Things I Have Learned This Year!


So, what is going on in the Lab!
Let's get caught up with all some of the things I have tried since school began!

FIRST, let me just say that I view teaching everyday as one big giant experiment. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don't. You cannot plan this stuff, people.
Well, I mean you can plan for class, but you absolutely cannot predict how it will go.

You know exactly what I mean.

No matter how much you plan something and try to think of everything possible to make your days go well, there is still that moment when a little child says (with some anxiety in her voice), "Mrs. Davis, I have to go to the bathroom right now"....and you realize the child is already peeing right on your feet. (That happened to me....)

So, despite all my thinking that this new year would go splendidly, I must confess, I have made some boo-boos! Let's review them, shall we!??
And why not make this a list of FIVE and
make it Five for Friday!
Clever, right?

Thanks Kacey for my weekly excuse to make a list of five things....

First Thing I Learned

Remember when I wrote about my Behavior Management Plan for this year?
There's the little graphs I created for each of my 15 classes. The plan was to start everyone off with ten tabs on the class graph and remove a tab whenever someone created some drama. At the end of the week the class with the most remaining would be the Class of the Week.
BIG Failure- epic.
The tabs would not stay on. I am inconsistent with having kids remove them as I am too busy for the small stuff....
so I gave that up.
I have misbehaving kids sign a log and that student has a consequence depending on the infraction. Too many log signings and I make a phone call to mom. I am still choosing a Class of the Week and the kids like that. I put the class names on the lab door and they do notice! The teachers notice, too! 

Second Thing I Learned

Don't cook pancakes for NINE classes.
I had this enormous Brain Pop.
I invented this amazing STEM Activity that involved experimenting with cooking pancakes.
I decided to make it a Fourth grade activity and then realized my fifth graders would miss out on this fabulousness.
So, I decided to let them also do the activity.
That meant NINE classes all mixing and stirring and cooking and eating and making a huge mess at the same time and it took three weeks to complete.......
Mind you, it was a super, best thing ever, kind of activity, but much too busy for that many classes at the same time!
I will repeat it next year for just one grade level!

Third Thing I Learned


Third Graders might not always think outside the box.
And when they do- it's a doozy.
Our STEM Challenge this week: Design a robot model and the robot must have a function, a purpose, a reason for being.
That robot in the photo is Galaxy Man.

His function? Glad you asked. All those shiny doodads and extensions are forms of weapons. His job is to save the Galaxy.
And I thought they would invent homework robots and lunch making robots- nope, we are saving the GALAXY.


 Fourth Thing I Learned

Kids do not know how to measure. I gave them measuring cups and showed them how to level off the cup with the edge of a knife. Here's what they did....

They did pretty well at this, but still spilled a ton of flour and baking powder!
Anyway, I spent about two weeks after that working on different forms of measurement. By far, the favorite activity was using a balance scale:

And, yes, that is a child with two broken arms. His team encouraged him to try the scale even though his casts went above the elbow and he could not bend his arms!


Fifth Thing I Learned

Platforms are fun. We have built two different versions of platforms so far and had a really fun time.
Mostly we have had to make sure we are building a platform and not Rapunzel's tower.





And, finally, building something using just basic and inexpensive supplies is the best thing of all....

Here's our Spoon Towers:

It's been a great start for this year.
Everyday is an experiment.
But I do have a science lab as my classroom!

How is your year going?
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Let's try a Quick Challenge! Pom-Pom Blasters!

I hope you have tried a Quick Challenge by now!

I invented these spur-of-the-moment easy-prep challenges because I needed something I could throw together when things do not go as planned.

The Pom-Pom Blaster is one of those!

This STEM challenge features the task of creating a blaster for pom-poms using some simple supplies you probably already have. It's an easy-prep activity that students love! #teachersareterrific #STEM #elementary


Let me explain. I teach only Science and STEM.


I have 15 classes in three grade levels. Now, that appears to be rather easy to plan, you would think. I mean, jeez, I would just need to plan for one science activity for each grade level and then just repeat it a few times. Easy peasy.

Nope.

I promise, rarely do I have every class doing the same thing. We have days off, assemblies, field trips, a kid with two broken arms, and any number of other things that change my schedule. Inevitably, there will be some classes that are off by a week or even two. So, I am in a constant state of getting everyone caught up so we can begin the next activity together! (Have I mentioned I am OCD...about order and stuff?)

Okay, here's my point.
I have a need for some filler activities. When one class in a grade level gets behind and I need to wait a week before beginning something new with all of them at the same time then I need a 'Filler' science/STEM activity. Sometimes I need a filler for every grade level at the same time (like right NOW!) I just need something that has:
  • NO background work. 
  • No lesson.
  • NO research.
  • Just- here are your supplies.
  • Get busy!

Most of my STEM activities take more time than that. I mean we do some pretty cool stuff, but you can't throw cooking pancakes together without some background and gathering of supplies and a lot of prep.....so...

Ta-Da!

QUICK CHALLENGES HAVE BEEN BORN!


Really, I had this amazing brain pop one day.
Why not just hand kids a box of stuff and give them some very SIMPLE directions!

This STEM challenge features the task of creating a blaster for pom-poms using some simple supplies you probably already have. It's an easy-prep activity that students love! #teachersareterrific #STEM #elementary

Give them most of the class time to design. Share the designs! Move on!

It is brilliant.

Then I started thinking of all the things we could do. We now have about 25 of these Quick Challenges now- in many variations. 

So, how does it work?

This is the best part! Especially if you have multiple classes because the prep is so easy. (A  lot of prep doesn't bother me, mind you, but sometimes it is overwhelming to prepare. You know, I did the pancake activity with NINE classes! We loved it!)

Anyway, it is easy to prep. Gather the supplies and get boxes ready. (I used plastic shoe boxes, but any kind of container will work- even a paper sack!) Now, just add stuff to each box- like an assembly line!


Add the criteria card to the supply box and you are good to go!I know, right? Easiest prep ever!

The Pom-Pom Blaster

This one is really just some cups, rubber bands, craft sticks, straws, and a pom-pom! The rules of the task are simple, too. Just build a device that will propel a pom-pom through the air.

This STEM challenge features the task of creating a blaster for pom-poms using some simple supplies you probably already have. It's an easy-prep activity that students love! #teachersareterrific #STEM #elementary

Look at the above photo closely. The straw on the left goes through the first cup and into the second cup. They used the twisty part of the straw to make an L shape and then tried to put the pom-pom on top of the straw. When the pom-pom would not stay on the straw they took the bottom of the cup (already cut off) and used it as a platform to put the pom pom on. Now, when you blow in the straw the pom-pom blasts off! Genius!


This STEM challenge features the task of creating a blaster for pom-poms using some simple supplies you probably already have. It's an easy-prep activity that students love! #teachersareterrific #STEM #elementary

Look at the model above. The students pulled back on the middle rubber bands and it launched the pom-pom. This one needed a lot of improvement because the rubber band kept flying off! Also, students discovered that holding onto the pom-pom wrapped in the rubber band had a huge failure rate. In fact, the rubber bands tangle in the pom and it usually just hangs on the device.

TIP: After watching teams struggle with this I will stop and observe quietly. Then I ask questions like, "Do you think you can modify the way the pom-pom is being held?" This leads them to start thinking about something that the pom can be wrapped in. 

This challenge is one that can be assembled quickly and will last only one class period. Perfect for me and those awkward times I need something QUICK!

This STEM challenge features the task of creating a blaster for pom-poms using some simple supplies you probably already have. It's an easy-prep activity that students love! #teachersareterrific #STEM #elementary

TIPS: I always have some suggestions and this challenge had some particular needs.
  • Think about safety first. I do not allow students to make slingshots. My experience with models made in that style is that they come apart too easily and parts go flying.
  • My rule about the slingshot is simple: Your device must rest on the tabletop or the floor. It cannot be handheld.
  • Another rule: Never aim at anyone. Always look before you let go of the pom-pom. (Yes, I know it's a pom-pom, but sometimes the devices come apart and fly.)
  • And another safety rule: Your device must remain together while being fired.  (Safety first!)

Friends, this challenge was spectacular! The kids loved it! 







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Five for Friday~ Random Projects!

It is Friday!
Next week has a day off
which would be great
except that it is on Tuesday!
Who has a day off on a Tuesday?

Anyway, thank goodness for Friday and for Five for Friday. Thank you so much Kacey for this weekly linky that we all love!

This week I decided to give you a peek into my classroom!
It has been an amazing week. I have been able to just walk around the lab tables and listen in on the talk about our projects. The kids are almost 100% engaged and the talk is about what they are working on.....with a little football talk every now and then. After all, we do live in Alabama...Roll Tide!


Let's start with third grade!
We have been learning about volume with an amazing challenge that involves popcorn. Students are challenged to build a container for a specific amount of popcorn. Their containers are really funny and, for the most part, really too big. 
STEM Challenge: This one is all about volume and how much a container will hold. Students make a container to hold a specific amount of popcorn!

STEM Challenge: This one is all about volume and how much a container will hold. Students make a container to hold a specific amount of popcorn!

Next, they tried to determine why a certain number scoops always happens when you fill containers! It's pretty messy, but effective in working on a perception of volume and that volume might depend on the containers- not the stuff in them!
STEM and Math- This challenge is all about determining how volume and the size of containers compare. Students use a scoop to fill containers and then learn a lot about volume!

STEM and Math- This challenge is all about determining how volume and the size of containers compare. Students use a scoop to fill containers and then learn a lot about volume!

On to fourth grade!
We have been building platforms!
The biggest problem kids are having is making it a platform and not Rapunzel's Tower! 
I love this challenge- TWO supplies- newspapers and tape!
STEM- easy materials- just newspaper and tape! Students must build a platform that has several rules to follow! Super fun!

STEM- easy materials- just newspaper and tape! Students must build a platform that has several rules to follow! Super fun!



FIFTH Grade!
We have learned all about calculating volume and surface area and then the challenge was to build a box with the greatest volume possible- if everyone begins with the same beginning surface area!
STEM Challenge- Build a container that has the greatest volume, but every group begins with the same surface area. This one involves a lot of math as students learn to calculate surface area and volume!
Pretty clever design on this one. That cube shape has the greatest volume of any class so far!

STEM Challenge- Build a container that has the greatest volume, but every group begins with the same surface area. This one involves a lot of math as students learn to calculate surface area and volume!



What is up next in the lab?
Well, third grade is jumping into erosion and weathering! Not sure how we are going to do that yet, but I am working on it! Here's a sneak peek:
Weathering and Erosion: Reading and Task Cards for erosion and weathering, word wall strips, flash cards, and more!



Fourth grade is building another platform- using STRAWS! Another sneak peek:
STEM Challenge- Build a platform using straws and paper clips! Super fun design challenge!


Fifth grade is starting a spectacular project on suspension bridges! I am thinking it will be amazing! And one last sneak peek:
STEM Challenge: Kids love to build bridges! This one is the best STEM challenge we have tackled! It’s a suspension bridge!


I will leave you with a funny of the week!

How did we live before Pinterest?

Speaking of Pinterest- for all bridges check this board:


Have a great weekend!
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