Tuesday, July 9, 2013

STEM- challenge 2

In April, I attended an Engineering Made Easy workshop. At that workshop, we had to do some engineering projects with our table. Each challenge had guidelines to meet. For example, our race car was made out of straws, tape, and index cards. It had to roll down a ramp carrying a pencil top eraser as a driver. Another challenge was to construct the tallest freestanding tower out of one sheet of paper.

During this workshop, I discovered two things... well, I knew these things about myself, this day just helped confirm them.... 1- I would not like to be on Project Runway type shows where you are given a challenge and only a short amount of time to do them. I need more time to think about my projects than were given. 2-I am more of a visual person that needs to see it before I really know what I am doing.

Anywho, the STEM Academy (what my school will be in the fall) is going to force me to help my little kids to think outside of the box. After this workshop, I took our little projects and made them more kindergarten friendly. I decided we were going to build a car. I gave my kids tape, index cards and straws. I told them it had to have 4 wheels and stand off of the table [so it needed to sit up on its four wheels]. The kicker for this project was that they had to work with a partner! I partnered them up with the person who sat next to them, which generally is someone of the opposite personality... you know a loud kid and a quiet kid, a good reader and an emergent reader, a good counter and a counter... they tend to balance each other out. They were supposed to talk to their partner to decide how to make the car before they did anything. In the grown-up world, we might call this brainstorming or project planning. I didn't want them to just dive in and not have any direction.

It wouldn't be a learning project if we didn't start with, "I don't know what to do?" "how do I build a car?" or "I can't do it!"

For the most part, my groups worked very well together for a first time partner project. Some I had to keep reminding them to talk to their partner. I constantly reminded them I wanted it to have 4 wheels and stand off of the table. This was a trickier challenge than their house challenge but there were a lot of successful groups. Groups that worked well together, groups that had cars that met the requirements and groups that tried without giving up.

We had our struggles too. This partner challenge helped me to see leaders, followers, bossy pants, strong-willed, and those that were happy to let their partner do the work [all of which I probably could have identified before].

One table stood out to me… A and P were partners. They kept forgetting that this was a partner project, even though I kept reminding them and one of their other tablemates, K, kept reminding them too. They seemed to have taken only the materials they thought they needed and tried to do the project on their own. “But I don’t have a straw!” and I would say, “You do but A is holding it. Talk and find out how you two can work together to build your car.” Or “He won’t give me anymore paper.” to which I would say “Well, you two have to share it. Talk and work together to build your car.” It went on like this for the whole time…. Until K pipes in. Here are some of the things I overheard…
“A, if you say you can’t. You really can’t do it.”
“We’re AmeriCANS, not AmeriCAN’Ts” {sound familiar? Remember STEM project 1?}

After a couple more encouraging words from K, A had enough and said “STOP!” K quickly fired back, “I won’t stop. We have to stay as a team.”

I was probably not much help because I stood back and would chime in “Preach on sister” to K. It frustrated A but I did not see any harm in her peer encouraging her and trying to help her see that it was in fact a team project and she wasn’t pulling her weight. But girlfriend had a point so I encouraged her. I did end up going to talk to A under the table and explain how K was trying to encourage her and help her and P finish their project.

Slowly, as groups were finishing their cars, I could be heard saying, "I knew you two could figure it out!", "Look at that car you guys built as a team!" or "Who told me in the beginning they couldn't build a car? It must not have been you guys."

In the end, A and P did not have a team car. They did get a lesson in team work in which I saw it show a little in our third project…

We are still engineering!

1 comment:

  1. So wonderful to see and hear of the new education system, course I must say I have a Granddughter thats so glad to be a teacher, that this has got to rub off on her strudents, OH OH you teachers are so great , wonderful I'm proud of all you Educators. YIppee for education. from the old man