Tuesday, July 28, 2015

First Ideas - Brainstorming

This is my brainstorming entry for the Create Make Learn class.  As many of you know, I have been hired to create a STEM Lab for the Woodstock Elementary School in Woodstock, VT.  My big question as I begin this process is how I can integrate the many maker elements that I learned about in this class with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  While "making" integrates nicely with engineering, engineering doesn't always integrate nicely with the other NGSS standards.  I am striving to bridge that gap. To accomplish this, below are some of my first ideas of the projects I want to pursue.

1. Design New NGSS Engineering Lessons - I could go through the K-5 NGSS and create engineering applications for many of them so that students can be active creators of their learning and learning materials.  For instance - how can they create "energy conversion" machines for the following standard: 

4-PS3-4.Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.* 
In doing this, I could create my own energy conversion machine to use as a model and example.  Also, for instance, with
K-PS2-1.Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
I could work with the older students to design standardized push/pull devices that could be used by the kindergarteners. This incorporates community service into their lessons as well. In preparation for this activity, I could create my own push/pull device as a model that incorporates all the elements of repeatability that would be necessary for such devices.

2. Insulated House Engineering  - I am leading an Engineering Week activity for the school in which students will be teamed across the grades to create an insulated "house."  Students will be challenged to devise an insulation system using recycled materials, which will be tested using Vernier temp probes, to see which one holds heat the longest.  This is an activity that I need to develop more, so I could "make my own" insulated house as an example and model for this upcoming activity.

3.  Woodworking -  When I interviewed for this STEM Lab position, I advocated strongly for having a component that allowed students to do woodworking in the lab. I did this because often the standard science materials available for construction of engineering projects are not sufficiently sturdy or solid enough to support components of their design ideas. For instance, building large catapults out of duct tape and cardboard is endlessly frustrating for students.  I was lucky enough to lead an elective at the St.Johnsbury Middle School on constructing benches and tables out of wood pallets that we got for free. The students really enjoyed this and were proud of their created benches, etc - which were donated to the river classroom.  In doing this, however,  it was clear to me that they had very little to no experience with basic tools - hammers, saws, nails and other construction elements that were fundamental to our childhood construction explorations - i.e. forts. While it can be tricky teaching woodworking to students, especially young students, because it needs to be safe and yet still accessible, it is immensely important. I could use this project to document my process as I set up the woodworking components of our STEM lab.

1 comment:

  1. Marcia,
    The real world aspect of the insulated house project sounds like something kids would totally connect with because it is a real world challenge that they could see benefits from in their own communities. I wonder if the wood working skills might also cross over into the house project. Being able to "really" construct things with wood is an amazing opportunity for kids to learn. Shop class in school has become a thing of the past. This is a double edge sword because I have heard of maker spaces taking over wood shop and in some cases the woodworking skills are ruled out because of the dust and close proximity to more delicate tech driven machines you might find in current makerspaces. Great ideas that might be morphed a bit.