Next Generation Science Standards Connection:
This STEM-based Lesson (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is designed to allow my students as much time as needed to analyze and test ways to solve a communication problem. In this lesson multiple things are being learned at the same time so constant assessment happens throughout the lesson. This lesson will provide opportunities for both a high level of discourse and allow for multiple ways to get to the desired outcome. My students learning will be guided by their questions, interest, and attempts at finding a solution to their problem.
Throughout the lesson I be asking questions to facilitate the learning and students spend their work time brainstorming, sharing ideas, and testing their solutions. My students record their observations and evidence in their STEM project page.
By nature STEM lessons may go longer than traditional classroom lessons. You may wish to break this lesson into more than one day.
In order to support a high level of student discourse within my science lessons I have assigned two different student partnerships. Turn and talk partners are discourse partners that work together to share the deep thinking that happens throughout the day. Workshop partners are partners who are matched together for the purpose of working during our independent times. In this lesson students will be engaged in both partnerships.
As a management tool I have the Engineering and Design Process Poster projected on our Interactive Whiteboard. I put my student's photos on magnets and as the children move through the different steps of the Engineering Design Process they move their photo to that step. This allows me to check in with groups and keep track of of who is still designing, evaluating or building.
Prior Knowledge Needed:
Students will need to know that problems are not just solved the first time they try it but will need to try it over and over again. I always tell my students, "Mistakes are opportunities to learn! Let's learn something new!"
*Materials for building will vary based on design ideas - Recyclable items, boxes, PVC piping, string, masking tape, felt, hooks, felt, leather strips, old clothes, wood, plastic cups or milk containers, Styrofoam packaging, cardboard, egg cartons, paper towel/toilet paper rolls, construction paper, bubble wrap, etc.
I ask colleagues and classroom parents to donate any/all of their "cleaned" recycling to help with this project.
I begin this warm up by reviewing the work we did in our first lesson Biomimicry and STEM Day 1. I ask my students to review their designs either alone or with other children who chose to do the same problems. I have two children who chose to work alone, one group of three children working together and rest decided to be in partnerships. This can be tricky to manage so I post the "Engineering Design Poster" on my white board and place student photographs on magnets. They move their photos to show where they are in the STEM process. This really helps me to manage who is working at what step and with who.
Today you get to build your design and test it out to see if it works. Can you please take a look at your design and our materials table. I want you to think about what materials are going to help you with your design. At that table you will find hooks, piping, Styrofoam, tape and much, much more. You may chose to build your design alone or work with someone else who has the same problem. Once you have planned out the materials you will use, please visit the materials table.
I stand at the materials table and help guide my students to find good materials for their designs however I find my students make really good material choices.
As my students work I move from partnership to partnership listening in on their research and ideas with the purpose of assessing which students are already beginning to use their research to discuss their designs. This is the perfect opportunity to support or scaffold students who are still struggling with Biomimicry and/or building the design.
In this next section the children get to build their models. I have a materials table set up for my students to "shop" for supplies. Once they have their supplies I send them off to work in random places around the classroom. I make sure to give my students time to build their models and test their models. The best part of this process is work that happens after the design fails. This is such an amazing teachable moment that allows students to really discover what, "Mistakes are opportunities to learn," really means. As my students work I walk around and confer with each group/partnership/student. I act more as a facilitator asking questions and taking notes.
The work my students do knocks my socks off!!
In this section my students have a chance to test out their projects to find out if it works. If it works they record that on the STEM Project Page. I want my students to tell why they thought it was successful. If the design doesn't work they write that on the STEM Project Page and then try again. They record on the project page why it didn't work and what they think needs to be changed. I ask them to think about why it didn't work and try to find a way to fix the problem and rebuild. I am sure to leave a lot of time for my students to test their model. I keep the materials for a series of days for redesign and allow my students time to find a way to solve the problem.
As a formative assessment and after the project is completed I ask each of my students to to present their models to the class. My students share how the design was created and whether or not if worked. If it didn't work and they have not had a chance to make revisions, they share their next steps.
*Many of my students continued to work on these designs all day long during their own time. They took them to lunch recess, afternoon recess and even home to make more changes. I even got emails from families sharing success and/or failures.