Our last challenge of the year was the hardest…. for my kids and for my assistant. J To her credit, she had never been in my classroom when we were working on our other projects, she wasn't in the room when I explained it, and she didn't know what I expected of the kids.
The project? Paper rockets.
Materials?paper, tape, a ruler, and glue.
Requirements of the rocket? 8 inches tall and stand up on its own
Of course, the first things that came out of their mouths…. “how do I do it?” “I can’t do it!” “I don’t know how!” But just like all of the other projects, they all slowly headed in the direction of a rocket that met Mrs. Snow’s requirements.
This story is about little J. He is almost too smart for his own good and doesn't like to do things the wrong way. He struggled a lot so Mrs. F sat down with him to work on it. He got frustrated that others at his table were taking up too much space so started to pull him over to the side to help him. Before they got settled in, I told her I wanted to see what he could figure out on his own. She struggled just as much letting him get frustrated as he did being frustrated.
She said, “Can’t I just…” and I said, “just watch him. He will figure it out.” You could tell she was just itching to go over and say, “Measure your paper, cut it, roll it up and tape it.” I will say, it is really hard watching them struggle and not just help them along. BUT, I am also learning to let them learn.
As he worked, he was getting it. Mrs. F was able to help him without giving his the answers. She helped him visualize what a rocket looked like and then he figured out how to make the body of his rocket. Then the tricky part was to make it stand up.
They both went to ‘itching’ again… him itching for the solution and her itching to give it to him. He kept saying, "It just leans this way." and then he would try to push it in the other direction. Mrs. F talked to him about why it was leaning, what it needed to it wouldn't lean. After their talk, he realized it needed "a kickstand". So he went to work making kickstands to go around the bottom. Before long, he had a rocket that met the requirements!
So that wraps up my experience with STEM for the school year. Now I just have to make it through a whole year doing it all over again!