Engineering Design: Fairy Tale STEM Activities

STEM is a regular part of our day. This month our STEM focus will be on Engineering Design, while simultaneously learning about Fairy Tales and Simple Machines. It is fascinating to see the various solutions students achieve as they work through the engineering process.  Students are allowed to apply what they know and investigate potential ideas and concepts rather than be expected to focus upon a specific “right” answer.  STEM focuses on providing the opportunity for children to collaborate, create solutions, and finally test and improve their solutions using an Engineering Design Process.

One of my goals is for the students in our class to understand that it is socially acceptable to have different ideas on how to solve a problem, while learning the valuable skill of working cooperatively towards a solution. Currently, we are collaborating to create a new home for Cinderella.  Cinderella is a well known fairy tale. In this story, Cinderella’s fairy godmother solved a lot of her problems. However, now that she has married her Prince Charming, she is in dire need of a new home to call her own! Our students are generating and comparing multiple possible designs to solve her problem. Students will work in small groups, and must use what they know about free standing structures and pulleys to design and build a castle, They are required to  include very specific criteria… such as a working drawbridge, at least 3 towers, a perimeter of at least 36 inches, etc.  Skills and tools of problem solving, patience, perseverance, and presentation are going to be needed to help Cinderella solve her problem, so that she can live happily ever after.