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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.

August 2017 The Dream Classroom

Our students are beginning the school year creating their very own classroom community… a “Dream Classroom”.  All students from Pre-K to 3rd grade are planning,  problem solving, collaborating, and creating a classroom design(s). Students are working on issues (such as behavior management, class jobs, etc.)  that require them to make their own decisions while addressing various ‘classroom’ issues or topics that arise. Students will be incorporating skills acquired in reading, writing, and math while working to solve the problems faced. As the children work to create their “Dream Classroom”, there will be opportunities for independent work as well as partner collaboration.  The final product will be based on each student’s imagination, creativity, and knowledge base.

The “Dream Classroom” was chosen for our first project, because I want our students to understand that classrooms should function as a positive community environment. Even though our class does consist of  multi-aged children, different learning levels, and a variety of learning styles—it is important to understand that we can all function together as a cohesive unit. I look forward to seeing the final product and to a great year! We are definitely off to a wonderful start!!

Life Cycles In April

It’s hard to believe that April is already here!  It will be a very busy month at Brenwood.  Students will be visiting Dahlonega Gold Mine for an exciting and educational day.  They will experience the thrill of gold panning and discover the history of how mining affected different parts of the United States.
In class, students will be learning about different life cycles.  They will watch caterpillars hatch into butterflies, and they will also be hatching chicks!  Students will take complete responsibility as far as researching the process of incubation and charting the growth development of the chicks.  They will also come up with a plan of how to take care of the chicks once they hatch.
I can’t wait to watch these young learners take charge of this experience!

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