It is National Engineers Week! This is a great week to have your class do some STEM activities.
Engineering in the Classroom
It seems like we are seeing STEM or STEAM activities everywhere we look these days! Like many trends there has been an element of this one that has always been around. STEM and STEAM are based in good ole problem solving strategies. It involves a sense of play something that some folks think is frivolous..but play is the work of children.
After all engineers have solved problems from the lowly paper clip to the artificial heart by experimentation. All engineers started out as kids that liked to play. Sometimes we feel like we need the stuff… all the things people tell us we need to do an activity in the classroom. You can do STEM in classroom with little to nothing! (Speaking of that~I have to come clean….I did want the KEVA Planks pictured above! If you don’t know about KEVA planks you can read more here. )
I promise I have some cheap ideas.
You usually see KEVA Planks in play and learning spaces built for kids. I had seen kids engage with these simple pieces of wood for hours on end. These simple planks lead kids to build and explore. I love that they don’t have fancy colors they are just….plain and kids love them. I had the opportunity to purchase some items using a fund at my school. These were at the top of the list. You can visit the KEVA Planks website (the link is above) and get lesson plans and ideas. (Now I feel better because some of you know KEVA Planks are not cheap and I said you can do this on the cheap)
STEM on the Cheap: Engineers Week
Remember how I said STEM and STEAM are problem solving strategies….OK so that means you do not need task cards or expensive materials to do an engineering lesson. Yes there is some good stuff out there to help you…but you can start by posing a problem to the kids. Remember this is a beginning…a way to get kids thinking. I have asked kids to build an animal habitat with random materials ~ just about anything you can think up.. you can do. This time I just asked them to build a bridge. Before building we talked about how bridges solved a problem for us~ getting us over something! Then I turned the kids loose with materials (toys)I have picked up at yard sales and Goodwill (on the cheap). This is what they created.
I ask them to talk about their designs and then they share their designs with the class. I am always amazed by what they come up with! We discuss how their structure will solve a problem. These materials were salvaged and given new life in the hands of kids. Check out this post: 4 Pieces of Paper, 4 Kids and 1 Glue Stick
This is a great STEM Lesson using materials every classroom has available. If you are interested in reading more you might enjoy this article from Discover Magazine: Teaching Kids to Think Like Engineers.
I have a Pinterest Board with STEAM and STEM Ideas. You can find some ideas on this board that are cheap and easy! Enjoy Engineers Week 2016 with your kids!
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