Saturday, September 22, 2012

STEM, it's not what you think!

First times are always the best or the worst,right?

So today I tried a new to me activity. STEM
The kids took 'notes' in the Science logs.
I have heard of STEM activities and we even have a STEM team at our school, but I have never really used the concept of STEM to introduce an idea and work with it hands-on!
The activity had nothing to do with the standard that we are working on in Science right now. It is purely a stand alone activity. So before we just "did it" I told the kids that I noticed something about our class, that I have NEVER noticed about ANY of the other classes I have taught. I told them that I believe they have an affinity (one of our vocabulary words this week) for Science, that they have a natural aptitude for it. (They LOVE it)! I also told them about our school's STEM team for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders! (the true KEY to a good STEM team isn't so much how smart they are, as it is in the fact that they can communicate and work as a team to get the job done)~ you'll see how this idea creates a little drama in the hive!
For our 1st ever STEM activity, I went to the Science book for help.(I know an unlikely source,) In one of our teacher resources I found a little gem (who knew!)  " A STEM Activity Book" (for real!)
There are only 6 STEM activities for 2nd graders, so I told them we will be doing one a month or one every two months depending on how short the month was. This way they can get used to the idea, but not drive me bonkers about "When are we doing STEM again?"
Our activity focused on casts and splints. I spent Thursday showing them pictures of splints and casts, and answering questions about them in our Science logs.
(Sorry it isn't right side up...sometimes I can't figure it out)
Then on Friday I introduced the materials and the teams. I explained how the real key to solving the problem was working with your friends. They were chomping at the bit to get started...but I wouldn't let them UNTIL they agreed on a few ideas and could communicate those ideas clearly to me. (boy oh boy, did that take a long time, I had two girls crying over year we will brainstorm how to share ideas first)
Immediately  one group really clicked. They were sharing and collaborating nicely. They got the first box of supplies:

In the kit: Popsicle sticks, fabric strips, paper strips, a broken pencil, a broken crayon, and two different types of tape.

This group worked together very well. You can see them repairing the bones. (broken pencil and a broken crayon)

Here they are wrapping the 'finger'.
Once all the groups figured out how to work together, a quiet hush came over the room. (Well, except for the drama in the back with the girls still crying...but they stopped once they saw the other teams having fun!)
The kids were wrapping and taping. Once they finished, I gave them a few more questions for their Science Logs.....

Once each group finished I lined up their 'fingers' and we discussed how each splint worked or didn't. I did not know which group got which 'fingers', but I did put the purple pencil and the purple crayon in the same box, same with the reds, blues, greens and yellows. So when I displayed them, I told them don't let me know which group did what...this way I can judge fairly. They actually helped me judge...funny thing was they used the black paper as a frame instead of using it as a prop for a splint. I guess I use black construction paper too much to frame things in my classroom. (LOL).

We discussed how many groups had the same idea with the crayons. They really liked the tape!
Everyone agreed we can't wait for the next STEM activity! They really had a good conversation about teamwork too! I think the next STEM activity has something to do with plants...messy, messy, messy...I hope I can handle it!

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