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Many of the descriptions below include PowerPoints or ActivInspire flipcharts to introduce a lesson and/or student sheets.
 

Activity Name

Description/ Objectives

Grade Level

Recycled Tower

As an introduction to engineering, the students were asked to build the tallest tower possible with the recycled materials they were given.  Some groups learned quickly that sometimes the container the materials are given in can be an important resource in a STEM challenge!  We also talked about environmental responsibility. 

Kindergarten

Sink or Float

Students predicted whether a material would sink or float and explain why.  Then they tested their theories.  The recorded both their predictions and conclusions on a data chart.   

Kindergarten

Energy Chain Bracelet

Students learned about the chain of energy… sunàplantsàplant eaterà small meat eaterà large meat eater.  They drew a food chain and then created a bracelet with beads representing each step of the energy chain.

Flipchart       Student Sheet 

Kindergarten

5 Senses Centers

Kindergarteners explored the Five Senses through sensory centers… 

·         Sight- Students played with crazy glasses, hand lenses and rocks, a hologram maker, and I-Spy books.

·         Sound- Students got to be the class DJ, spinning tunes on the CD player.  They also danced and played percussion instruments.

·         Touch- Students compared the texture of various materials and objects from nature.  They also got to play in dry beans.  At the water table, they were able to play with strainers, funnels, and floating bears in water.

·         Smell- Students smelled different candy oils and tried to guess what scent they were sniffing.

·         Taste- Students were blindfolded and tasted various flavors of Skittles.  They then had to guess what flavor they had tasted.

Kindergarten

Signs of Fall Walk and Sorting Activity

Kindergarteners discovered signs of fall.  We took a nature walk to collect fall treasures.  Then we used these treasures to practice sorting.  The students came up with lots of different ways to sort their treasures: by color, by size, by things that were alike, etc.  Then they made a nature bracelet with their leaves.

Kindergarten

Darkness and Light Centers

Students discovered the meanings of the words transparent, translucent, and opaque.  The center activities included: (1) exploring with a light table, (2) building shadows using blocks and an overhead projector, (3) creating a cave of darkness using chairs and table clothes (4) playing a computer game in which they had to use the special senses that nocturnal animals have to help The Cat in the Hat find his hat in the dark, (5) exploring at the water table complete with glow lights in the water, and (6) giving and following instructions for building with blocks through an opaque wall.

Kindergarten

Day and Night PowerPoint Projects

Students learned a few basics of PowerPoint by creating this project.  We focused on following directions using “computer words” such as click, double click, slides, text, cut, paste, image, etc.  Students reported about differences in the sky, animals, etc. associated with night and day.

Kindergarten

Mystery Box

This activity was basically a version of 20 Questions to develop the kids’ questioning and reasoning skills.  Each student got to feel the mystery box.  Then they each got to ask 1 yes/no question about a characteristic of the object.  (I.e. Is it something soft?) Next, they used the clues from the previous round to make a guess about what was in the box.  Finally, they got to open the box and check their predictions.

Kindergarten

Gingerbread Man Trap

This was project was the first one that the kindergarteners were asked to use the engineering design process.  However, because they were kindergarteners, there was some imagination involved in testing the traps.  The students designed, created, and tested a trap to catch the gingerbread man out of any building material they wanted (Legos, k’nex, blocks, etc.)

Kindergarten

Jack and the Beanstalk Balance

Kindergarteners learned about balance and counting with this activity.  First, they listened to an interactive version of Jack and the Beanstalk on an iPad app.  Next, they balanced beans on top of a beanstalk made from a paper towel roll and a paper plate.  After they had tried it five times, they used a pan balance to find out which group of beans were the largest.  Then, they took their heaviest group and divided it into piles of 10. Finally we counted by 10s to find the total number of beans then graphed each group's score on a giant beanstalk!

Kindergarten

States of Matter Centers

Kindergarteners explored solids, liquids, and gases in various centers.  Stations included an iPad app called Watee, a Brainpop video on the computers, an ActivBoard sorting flipchart, pan balances with solids of various densities, an ice table, and mixing potions (vinegar and baking soda.)

Kindergarten

Wrecking Ball Experiment

Students tested the strength of different towers made of Mega Blocks using a homemade wrecking ball.  They predicted which tower would be strongest (single stacked blocks, double stacked blocks, or quadruple stacked blocks) and then counted the number of hits it took to knock various towers down.  They used this data to design their own even stronger tower.

Kindergarten

Transportation Centers

Kids built trains out of pattern blocks, created communities on the train table, made railroad tracks out of dominoes, and solved traffic jam issues on the iPads.  We also discussed various types of engineers that work with transportation.

Kindergarten

Billy Goats Gruff

Students read the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff in their class.  In STEM, they had to design an alternative way for the goats to get from one side of the bridge to the other since the troll was blocking the bridge.  Students created catapults, zip lines, etc. for the goats to cross from one giant spool (from telephone wire) to another. 

Kindergarten

Finger Printing Mystery

Students attempted to answer the age old question: “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?” by analyzing finger prints and giving evidence to decide who the perpetrator was.

 PowerPoint       Student Sheet

Kindergarten

QR Code Pattern Blocks

Kindergarteners scanned QR codes to see a pattern for pattern blocks.  They used the blocks in that bucket to follow the patterns.

Kindergarten

Day and Night Giant Diorama

Students read an informational text about the day and night sky in their classrooms.  In STEM, we read Chicken Little.  Then the students created their own falling sky by creating items that would go in the day and night sky and taping them on a string under the table on the correct side: day or night.

Kindergarten

Litter Bugs

Prior to reading an informational text about insects in their classrooms, in STEM students studied plastic bugs to see what all bugs have in common.  Then they built bugs out of recycled materials.  Bugs had to have 6 legs and be free-standing.

Kindergarten

Umbrella for Smokie

Students were challenged to design, build, and test an umbrella to keep Smokie the Bear dry during April showers.  Students used 1 grocery bag, 1 sheet of paper, 1 sheet of plastic, 10 straws, and 10 craft sticks to solve their challenge.  Then we tested the umbrellas with a squirt bottle and teddy bear.

Kindergarten

Frogs on a Log
In order to understand how cause and effect applies to reading, math, and science, students learned about balancing frogs on a log with this lesson.
 Kindergarten
Budgeting for a Pet
While reading a story about a cat in their classroom and learning about subtraction, students had to budget materials for a home for their cat with $20 (unifix cubes.)
PowerPoint        Student Sheet
Kindergarten

Three Little Pig Houses

The students build houses for the three little pigs using any material they choose—Legos, blocks, shoe boxes, construction paper, tape, etc.  Then we tested it to see if the “Big Bad Wolf” (a.k.a a hairdryer with googly eyes could knock it down.)  Then they improved and retested.  This lesson was an introduction to what engineers do and the engineering design process.

1st Grade

Straw and Paper Clip Bridge

Students used straws and paper clips to build bridges according to an interactive instruction manual in Noteability.  They then improved the bridge to make it sturdier.  Math: geometric shapes, Science: Balanced forces

Flipchart          Student Sheet

1st Grade

Oil Spill

After reading about oil spills and their affects on the environment, we simulated an oil spill using a large plastic container, water, and vegetable oil.  The students were challenged create skimmers to clean up the oil spill using cotton balls, netting, felt, pipe cleaners, paper, tape, etc.  Students tested their skimmers and then did a digital drawing of what they would do differently if given the chance to improve.

1st Grade

Lorax PSA

This project was based on Dr. Seuss's The Lorax.  After reading the story, students were challenged to create a commercial or public service announcement to "speak for the trees."  In groups, they wrote skits detailing why we need to protect our trees and ways that kids can help.  Next, they recorded their PSAs using an iPad, and the class got to watch it.
 

1st Grade

Planting a Rainbow

The challenge was to build a plant that met four requirements: free-standing, between 6 and 10 blocks tall, including 4 flower parts (petals, leaves, stem, and roots), and all of the colors of the rainbow had to be represented at each table.

1st Grade

Night Hike

Students went on a "Night Hike" with flash lights and looked for nocturnal animals (Beanie Babies) that were camouflaged around the dark room.  They were also challenged to design technology to allow humans to adapt to nocturnal activity.  They came up with lots of great design ideas such as "Super Pupil Glasses" and "The Super Sniffer!"  An additional goal this week was for the students to determine what an A+ Technolgy Design would look like.  After brainstorming criteria, the students worked in partners to self-assess.

 PowerPoint       Student Sheet

1st Grade

Designosaurs

First graders created Designosaurs based on their answers to various questions.  (Example: Do you prefer meat or vegetables?  If meat, draw sharp teeth on your designosaur... If veggies, draw flat ones.)  Each designosaur turned out very different!  Then we used our Designosaurs to create giant pictographs on the floor!  This activity went along with the dinosaur story The Big Circle that the first graders were reading in class this week.
 

1st Grade

What Color is Camouflage?

First graders did an inquiry activity in which they were using the Scientific Method to answer the question: What color is camouflage?  The kids formed a hypothesis (many said brown or green) and then did research by reading an informational text.  Next, we did our experiment.  The kids each took a different colored plastic bug out to the courtyard and found the perfect place to camouflage their insect.  After recording their location, they came to the conclusion that camouflage can be any color that allows an animal to blend in to its surroundings.  Finally, the students invented their own bug and drew a background for it to camouflage itself.

1st Grade

Native American Drums

Students learned that Native Americans used drums for three reasons: celebrations, ceremonies, and war signals.  They were then challenged to create a drum that was both loud and nice looking using very few materials: 2 pieces of paper, 10 craft sticks, a handful of beads, a small plastic bowl, a large plastic container, 1 small piece of felt, and 3 cotton balls.  The only way to get more materials was to barter with other groups.  Then, we used an iPad app to test the volume of our drums. Finally, they improved them to make them louder.

1st Grade

Insulator Experiment and PowerPoint Project

First graders used the scientific method to test which material would be the best insulator-- felt, cotton balls, packing peanuts, or cardboard?  Each group packet a thermometer into a small plastic bag and sealed it.  Then they put the small bag into a large one.  Between the 2 bags, they stuffed one of the 4 insulators.  After sealing the large bag, they held it under ice water for 5 minutes.  They communicated the results of the experiment by making a PowerPoint presentation.

1st Grade

Marshmallow Shooters

Students learned about levers and fulcrums by shooting marshmallows.  They tested various materials of different lengths and heights to figure out which allowed them to shoot furthest.

1st Grade

Animal Groups

While first graders were learning about animal groups in their classrooms, in STEM, they chose one of the five vertebrate groups (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds) and designed a brand new species that would fit into that group.  After planning their design on the iPads, they built a model of the animal using recycled materials.  Groups were asked to prove that their animal belonged to a certain group by its distinguishing features.

1st Grade

Reading an Instruction Manuel: Pen Challenge

In this activity, students learned the important engineering skill of reading and following an instruction manual.  Students had to follow instructions in order to put together a 10-piece ink pen.  This was challenging for the first graders but they used perseverance and were eventually able to build a working pen.

1st Grade

Volcano Experience Compare and Contrast

Students participated in 2 volcano experience.  First, they watched a volcano model demonstration using baking soda and vinegar.  Then, they took a virtual helicopter tour using an app called Volcano 360.  After discussing both experiences, students compared and contrasted the two volcanoes on a Popplet idea web. 

1st Grade

Who Would Win?
Animal March Madness
 After reading Jerry Pallotta's Who Would Win? books, we were inspired to have our own Who Would Win March Madness tournament with first graders in STEM class! The students selected animals that weren’t exactly known for their fierceness but were challenged to make them sound tough and dangerous. They read nonfiction books about the animal and chose 4 facts to put on a playing card for that animal, which they created using an iPad app. Then the students posted their playing cards on a bracket on a Padlet wall that was displayed at the front of the room. After each group presented their animal and reasons it would win in a fight, the class voted on which animal would win using Kahoot.it (which allows students to vote using their iPads and then graphs the results on the screen in the front of the room.) The winning animal advanced to the next round where we repeated the process.  1st Grade

Mystery Powders

Students did a series of tests on six mystery powders (sugar, salt, flour, corn starch, baking soda, and powdered sugar) to try to figure out what they were.  Tests included exploring with the five senses, solubility testing, and testing to see if it reacted with vinegar.  Third graders did background research on physical and chemical changes using a padlet wall: http://padlet.com/wall/hastings_changes

1st and 3rd Grade

STEM Talk Legos

Students sat across from their partner with legos in between.  A word appeared on the screen and each partner would go look at a picture of that word.  The catch was that the pictures were very different but the kids didn’t know it.  For example, when truck appeared on the screen, one partner saw an eighteen wheeler and the other saw a small pickup.  The partners had to describe what they saw to one another a build a compromised version out of Legos.  This challenge helped students understand that they have to listen to other people’s ideas, try to picture their group members’ vision, and then design a compromise when they are working on design challenges in groups.

PowerPoint           Materials

1st Grade

Save Fred the Worm

Students practiced working in partners and problem-solving as they had to help Fred the Worm put on a life vest and get back on his boat.  Fred was a gummy worm, his life vest was a life saver candy, his boat was a plastic cup… but the catch was that they couldn’t use their hands, only paper clips as tools.

PowerPoint           Student Sheet

1st Grade

Fact Family Stop Motion Videos

Students created videos using the Stop Motion App to model fact families using various manipulatives.

1st Grade

Straw Rockets

During their measurement unit, students designed and built a paper straw rocket.  They tested them and measured their distance. Then they improved and remeasured.

 

Beanie Baby Habitats

Students research the needs of a Beanie Baby animal and then build an appropriate habitat for the animal.  They must take into consideration the food, water, shelter, and space an animal needs in its habitat.

2nd Grade

Recycle Roundup

Students learned about what can be recycled, composted, or trashed by playing a game called Recycle Roundup on National Geographic for Kids.  Then they built a “Recycling Machine”—something that would allow them to pick up an object and put it into the recycling without touching the object.  (The used recycled materials to build!)  Once their machine was working, they came up with ways to improve it (such as extending handles so that it could be used without bending down.)

2nd Grade

Smokie-mon PowerPoint Projects

The students were challenged to design their own creature and create a PowerPoint to describe how the animals' needs are met.  The students drew their Smokie-mon digitally and then demonstrated their understanding of animal needs and habitats through their project.

2nd Grade

Aluminum Foil Boats

Each student worked in a "top secret laboratory" (a.k.a. behind a bucket) to build a boat out of aluminum foil.  After they built their boats secretly, they were put in groups to help each other improve their boats.  They engaged in student-lead conversation about what their boats reminded them of, what they were imagining while building the boats, ways they might improve the boats, other examples of things that floated well, etc.  Finally, the students took turns floating their boats and asking each other questions such as, "How would change your boat if you did this project again?"  Student-lead, respectful, and meaningful conversation was our goal!

2nd Grade

Operation Top Secret Message

The students have to get a secret message to Princess Reagan (who is trapped in EDP Tower) without dropping their message in the moat.  The materials for this project include 10 pieces of paper, 10 paper clips, 10 rubber bands, 20 feet of string, and 3 feet of masking tape.  The kids have come up with so many great ideas to get the top secret message to the princess such as sling shots, zip lines, pulleys, paper airplanes, etc.!

2nd Grade

Giant 3D Structures

Second grader created giant 3D structures out of rolled newspapers.  They were asked to decompose a model structure into its 2 dimensional shapes (hexagons and triangles) and then construct a giant version of the 3D structure.  They also learned to identify the three dimensions of a 3D shape (length, width, and height) and the parts of a 3D shape (vertices, edges, and faces.)

2nd Grade

The Science of Soap

Students did an experiment by dropping water onto a penny to find out how soap affects the surface tension of water.  Eventually, they learned that washing your hands with soap is important because it allows the water to surround the dirt and wash it away instead of clinging to other water molecules.

PowerPoint        Student Sheet

2nd Grade

Human Powered Machines

In this activity, students learned that technology, as it is defined in STEM, is more synonymous with invention that with electronics as many of them thought.  Students created human powered machines out of cardboard boxes. (One student was inside the machine.)  Some of the machines the students developed included math machines, homework doers, paper airplane makers, and even a massage machine. 

2nd Grade

Dinosaur Evidence

Students practiced using evidence to formulate a conclusion in this research project.  We found out that scientist can't just observe the habits of dinosaurs like they do to find out information about animals that are still living.  Instead, they have to look at fossils and find evidence of their habits.  Each group selected a dinosaur to study for evidence of its food preference.  Students used clues such as teeth, legs, necks, and claws to decide whether their dinosaur was a meat-eater or plant-eater.  They also created some pretty crazy dinosaur costumes to wear while presenting to the class.

2nd Grade

Bracketology Tournament

In the excitement of March Madness, second grade learned about bracketology.  They participated in a Critical Thinking Tournament in which they raced to solve puzzles on the iPads to advance through the brackets.  Students also created their own 8-team bracket on any subject they liked, such as favorite food, sports, animals, etc.  We also discussed how to calculate the odds of winning a tournament solely based on the number of teams in the tournament.

2nd Grade

QR Code Building Challenge

Students found QR codes hidden around the room.  When they scanned the code, the students saw a picture of a design or object built from pattern blocks, legos, wooden blocks, or other building materials we have in our classroom.  The students had to replicate the object in the picture by building it. 

2nd Grade

Animal CSI

Students watched “suspect videos” of four animals who might have stolen STEMBO (our class mascot) on a Padlet wall (http://padlet.com/wall/animalcsi).  Students then evaluated crime scene clues to find out who kidnapped STEMBO and defended their accusation with three pieces of evidence.

2nd Grade

Box Maze Code Activity

Students set out boxes on a giant grid according to a diagram.  When all boxes were in the right place, they were able to crawl through the box maze.  The students then played BotLogic on the iPads to learn basic coding commands.  They then wrote the code for our giant box maze.

2nd Grade

Assembly Line Robots

Students created Lego robots that matched a prototype.  Each table created and improved assembly strategies to make the robots more quickly.  They soon found that distribution of labor and assembly lines allowed them to produce more efficiently.

 

2nd Grade

Harmless Holder

Students designed and tested environmentally friendly carriers for plastic water bottles.

2nd Grade

Pinball Challenge

Students designed a giant pinball machine using cardboard boxes and cardboard tubes.  The goals was to create a track that would allow the tennis ball to roll from the top to the bottom as slowly as possible.

2nd Grade

Humpty Dumpty Egg Catchers

After reading Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again, a twist on the classic nursery rhyme, students designed an egg catcher to protect Humpty Dumpty if he ever falls off the wall again. Students graphed their data using pictographs.

2nd Grade

Crabitats

Students design habitats for hermit crabs with consideration for food, water, and shelter.  Each class builds one habitat which is connected to all of the other classes’.  Each day, we graph which habitat the crabs are choosing to live in.  The students improve their habitats according to the data.

3rd Grade

Catching the Wind

Students participated in a webquest called “Catching the Wind.”  They learned about how windmills work and why they are considered a clean energy source.  The next week, they were asked to use what they had learned about wind energy to design and build a sail for a sailboat.  They tested their sails by attaching them to a Styrofoam boat on a wire track and a fan.  The groups were able to continuously test and improve for 2 weeks. 

PowerPoint          Student Sheet

3rd Grade

Science Lab Equipment Centers

Students explored the uses for various types of science lab equipment through centers.  The centers included microscopes, hand lenses, stopwatches, thermometers, goggles, balances, and magnets.  This can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers.

3rd Grade

Earth Materials Dwellings

After learning about natural resources, students were challenged to build dwellings solely out of earth materials: soil, sand, water, straw, sticks, and clay. Then we tested their dwellings by pouring water on them and blowing a fan on them to see if they could stand up to wind and water weathering!

3rd Grade

Balloon Balance

First, students brainstormed lots of examples of things we have to balance in their lives... play and work, healthy food and treats, give and take, spend and save, etc.  One third grader even mentioned the commutative property of addition (i.e. 2+1=1+2) as an example of balance!  They then were challenged to add objects to the string of a helium balloon to make it hover in the air.  They had to work to find just the right balance. We also learned that it is very important for scientists to document each combination that they tried and make small adjustments.

3rd Grade

Snap Circuits

Third graders built dozens of different circuits with our Snap Circuit Jr. kits including: bulbs, motors, alarms, music, speakers, wires, etc.  Not only did students learn about circuitry, but they also practiced the important skill of reading an instruction manual. 

3rd Grade

Angry Birds

After playing the digital version of Angry Birds on the iPads, the students designed a tower built from various sizes of boxes and canisters labeled with multiplication problems.  They were challenged to build the towers in such a way that they would be most sturdy.  Other teams would throw angry birds to knock down the tower.  Then the students had to solve the math problems on the blocks to find their score.

3rd Grade

Chain Reaction

Third graders designing and built chain reactions inspired by OK Go's video, "This Too Shall Pass." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w

They were basically allowed to use anything they could find in the STEM room to create a chain with at least 3 steps.  The students videoed their chain reactions using an ipad.

3rd Grade

Confetti Launchers

Third graders designed and built confetti launchers to celebrate the end of TCAPs. As a class, we created objectives for what a successful launcher should be able to do (i.e. height of lauch, distance of launch, etc.)  Then we brainstormed and planned a design. These amazing launchers were built from recycled material and showed such advanced thinking about scientific concepts such as force, trajectory, and laws of motion.  On the day that TCAPs ended, all third graders got to launch confetti in the hallway!

3rd Grade

Science TCAP Review Board Game

Third graders designed their own board game in order to review for the science TCAP.  Each student was able to design their own game.  This allowed them to apply their STEM creativity but take a break from the strenuous TCAP review that most classes were doing.

3rd Grade

Math Problem-Solving QR Code Hunt

Students search for QR codes hidden around the classroom.  When they scanned one using the iPad, it took them to a CRA-type math problem solving question.  The students had to copy and paste the picture into Notability and then show their work to solve the problem.  We used this opportunity to show how the Engineering Design Process can be used for math problem solving.

3rd Grade

STEM Careers Research Project

 

Students will brainstorm interview questions and email them to an individual in a STEM-related field.  (I collected a list of volunteers who agreed to respond to the email.)  The students then created a PowerPoint about that career. 

3rd Grade

Pipeline

After learning about the Alaskan pipeline, students designed and tested a pipeline that could carry oil (actually water) at least three yards using giant spools, straws, duct tape, cardboard tubes, and clay.

3rd Grade

Birdbath

Students redesigned a birdbath to help it freeze more slowly in cold weather.   They defended their design by explaining how surface area and insulator versus conductors would affect freezing.  Check out their explanations at http://padlet.com/wall/frozenfriends.
 

3rd Grade

Hour of Code Scavenger Hunt

First the students played LightBot to learn how to code a maze.  Then they found “clues” (wooden blocks with a plastic robot glued in certain patterns) around the school.  They had to write the code (in LightBot style) for each clue.  With each clue, there was multiple choice of three codes each with a QR code.  Scanning each code, the students were told if their answer was correct or not.

K-3

Lego Simple Machines

Students used the Lego Simple Machines Kits to design various projects with levers, wheel and axis, etc.

3rd Grade

Frog Parachutes

Students designed parachutes to allow plastic frogs to travel to the ground as slowly as possible.  They graphed their times each time they tested in Excel.

3rd Grade

Storm Shelters

Students were challenged to design storm shelters that would hold up to wind and water weathering.  However, before they could design their shelter, they had to create their own recipe for clay using flour, salt, oil, and warm water.  Students also had to budget money to purchase their materials.

3rd

Change in the Sand
Students are introduced to magnets and separating mixtures in this challenge.  At the beach, you drop your bag just as you are going across the boardwalk. All of your coins and keys spill down into the sand below.  Now you must design and build something to retrieve your stuff without getting off the boardwalk. (You don't want to disturb the sand dunes!)
PowerPoint        Student Sheet
 3rd
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