3 Engaging STEAM Challenges

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Can you build a parachute that can transport a figure safely from the top of the playground to the ground? 

Challenge:

  1. List of materials
  2. Plan: Detailed sketch of model with/without instructions
  3. model
  4. Chart explaining what happened after each test flight.
  5. What changes/modifications did you make after each test?
  6. Strategies you would recommend to someone else doing this challenge.

Some of these questions can be documented orally or written dependent on the developmental appropriateness of the child attempting the challenge.

 

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Can you build a device that launches pompoms?

Challenge:

  1. List of materials
  2. Plan: Detailed sketch of model with/without instructions
  3. model
  4. Chart explaining what happened after each test launch.
  5. What changes/modifications did you make after each test?
  6. Why you think the pompom went high/far?
  7. What might you try differently next time?

Some of these questions can be documented orally or written dependent on the developmental appropriateness of the child attempting the challenge.

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Can you design and build a car?

Challenge:

  1. List of materials
  2. Plan: Detailed sketch of model with/without instructions
  3. model
  4. Chart explaining what happened after each test drive.
  5. What changes/modifications did you make after each test on flat ground or on a ramp?
  6. What might you try differently next time?

Some of these questions can be documented orally or written dependent on the developmental appropriateness of the child attempting the challenge.

After reading the book “If I Built a Car” by Chris Van Dusen our early learners were excited to dig deep into car design. To find out more about Chris’ book visit the link: http://www.chrisvandusen.com/books/if-i-built-a-house

if i built a car

 

Open-Ended Questions to Promote Deeper Thinking

  • What other math does this make you think of?
  • What was the hardest part about…?
  • What were the steps involved?
  • How did you show your thinking?
  • How else might you solve the problem?
  • What else could you have done?
  • What happens if we change…?
  • What happens when…?
  • What do you observe?
  • How do you know?
  • What do you already know about…?
  • How do you think you could find out more about…?
  • What do you notice/observe/remember/predict?
  • What does this mean to you?
  • What does this remind you of?
  • What are you still figuring out?
  • What have you learned?
  • What do you still wonder about?
  • What are you picturing?

Maker Space/Inventor’s Table

Young children love engineering, creating, and sharing. With that comes critical thinking, problem-solving, testing theories, collaboration, and reflection. We have a makerspace in our room that we presently call the inventor’s table as some of our early learners call themselves (and rightfully so) inventors. It includes lots of loose parts, tools, recycled materials, coffee filters, paper bags, cups, popsicle sticks, clothespins, elastics, string, tape, etc.

Books that Inspire STEAM Challenges

Our early learners have become very much engaged in being innovative after the inspiration of these two awesome books both by Andrea Beaty.

rosie revere engineerIggy Peck Architect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the following link to get a look inside Rosie Revere Engineer: https://www.andreabeaty.com/rosie—look-inside.html

Click on the following link to get a look inside Iggy Peck Architect: https://www.andreabeaty.com/iggy-peck—look-inside.html

 

Reflection

Sometimes it’s a wonderful idea to not show any models for children to work from. Sometimes it’s great to see what children come up with what is truly from them. However, sometimes, and with some children (and adults) especially, they are more successful when they get to see other models and ideas first. Then they can tweak them to make them their own. Some will even try and copy them to a tee. I have never seen this as a problem. Using diagram’s to re-create objects is what some do for a living. It’s all about providing opportunities for children to gain confidence in creating something new. Often times when they’ve been successful and built up that confidence they pull away from a design and attempt their own. I find this truly ground-breaking.

 

Happy building!

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