Finally we have beautiful weather! I have been waiting to do this activity for quite some time and I’m so happy with how it turned out. I am finding that my kindergarten classes are constantly asking if we are going to be doing science. Therefore, I am planning more and more STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) lessons because they love it! Also, I feel that it is such an important subject(s) and I am really enjoying every lesson that we do! Watching how students work and solve problems during these periods has been very rewarding!
Today, I told students that they were going to be mini engineers. I split the class into 6 groups, of 5 students per group. Each group got a bin of heavy duty clothes pins, pipe cleaners, pieces of string, and an assortment of sticks (about 10 strong sticks, just over a meter long, and 10 shorter, thinner sticks/twigs).
We first had the discussion that the sticks were not to be used as swords. They were then challenged to build some kind of structure that at least one child from their group could sit in. The only other direction I gave them was that when I practiced and experimented with them at home, my structure fell down several times before I had something that worked, but that’s what makes great scientists! Trying and trying again and not giving up!
Groups did amazing! They all stuck with it for the whole period and a lot of great discussion happened. At first conversations were about what worked before their structure fell, what they wanted to try and what wasn’t/was working. Some groups used trees near them as support for their structure, others buried an end of their sticks in the ground for extra support. Others used the fabric as a carpet rather than a roof so that they could all sit in it. By the end, almost every group had created a structure of some kind. It was a great day of learning and I was so proud of them!
If you don’t have similar sticks, branches would create a great challenge. An old bed sheet would work perfectly instead of the fabric. Any building challenge like this encourages kids to think like engineers and keep working using trial and error.