Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Blowing Big Bubbles ~ Our December Monthly School-wide STEM Challenge

We are gearing up for our next monthly challenge...BUBBLES!  We do not do anything holiday related since not all of our students celebrate the same ones, so we figured bubbles would be perfect!  These monthly school-wide challenges are purposely left open-ended so teachers can extend them as they wish.  I know in my grade level we plan to do circles in math at this time as well as dry ice bubbles and some other labs.  It should be fun!  We chose three books to include with the challenge this time and they are perfect (one is amazingly funny and informative)!  Here is the link to the December challenge packet, you could actually use it for ANY month!


Here are the books we are using.  Click on each one to be taken to the Amazon link if you are interested in purchasing them!

"Pop! A Book About Bubbles" is a great non-fiction book for all grade levels and gives great explanations about bubbles. 


"Bubble Trouble" is a fictional story about bubbles causing a lot of trouble!  Super cute!


"Bubble Homes and Fish Farts" has to be my favorite!  I thought it would be a gimmick, but it actually contains a huge amount of great information about how different animals use bubbles as an adaptation in order to survive!  I highly recommend this one even if you are not doing this challenge.  It is a fantastic book!


I hope you find a way to incorporate bubbles into your classroom!  The possibilities are endless!

Counting Pumpkins Monthly STEM Challenge Pictures!

We completed our monthly STEM challenge and found some unbelievable results!  Our pumpkin was pretty big, and it had a lot of seeds!  We actually cut the pumpkin into six slices, one per table and it gave us a great view of the inner workings of the pumpkin!





FREE Gingerbread Man Trap STEM Engineering Challenge

I just recently created this Engineering Challenge FREEBIE!  My kids will be doing this one after Thanksgiving Break and I will be sure to post pics of their designs!  I hope you can use it in your classroom, too!  Click here for this freebie!









Happy holidays and happy engineering to you!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October Monthly School-wide Challenge ~ Counting Pumpkins

We participate in monthly challenges as a whole school.  They are a great way to bring the school together!  We post data and results in a central location near the front office.  The challenge for October is called ~ Counting Pumpkins!  Each class received two books, one fiction and one non-fiction to keep and use in the classroom.  Literacy is really important in our building so whenever we can make a connection to literacy, we do!  Here are the two books each classroom received:





Each classroom also received a packet to help guide them through the challenge!  I found HUGE pumpkins at a local market and I got one for each classroom.  I also provided metal trays (the kind for a turkey) from the dollar store for each room to help reduce the mess!

Here is the link to the packet!  It only costs $2.50 for the 10 page packet.  Why not see if your school would be interested in doing their own school-wide challenge?




Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Engineering Design Process

I absolutely love the work of this teacher!  Sue Cahalane has an amazing blog called "Science for Kids" and if you haven't checked it out yet, you should!  Click here for the link to this wonderful science blog.  She just created a packet based on the Engineering Design Process and it is super easy to understand and use!  The primary teachers at my school love it and it would be a huge help to anyone starting out (or anywhere in) the STEM process!

Here is the link to this fantastic freebie!  Check out her store, it is full of great science resources specifically designed for K-4 kids!


Enjoy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Puzzle Building STEM Challenge

I have to say that I was totally surprised at how challenging this STEM challenge really is since it seems so simple!  Here is the challenge question:

Can your team build a puzzle without speaking and without seeing the picture on the box in the fastest time?
The fastest team completed the challenge in just over 15 minutes and the slowest team completed it in just over 24 minutes.   They all felt as if they had accomplished a huge task and they worked together to do it! Yeah!  We used 100 piece puzzles from the Dollar Tree that were all Spongebob themed!  The students did not get to see the box at all, but since they were familiar with the topic it helped a little.  
Want to try this challenge with your kiddos?  Here is the link to the STEM Challenge.




I wonder how fast your kids could accomplish this challenge?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

S.T.E.M. Home Challenges ~ A Great Way to Connect Home and School!

Our school is really trying to get into the STEM way of thinking in all areas.   We will be sending home monthly STEM Home Challenges starting this month (September).  The idea is that students can take an easy to find item (pencil, cardboard paper towel roll, paper plate, etc.) and they create something (anything) out of it!  The students can use any additional materials as well!  We are planning to display these creations in the display case near our front office area.  Looking for something STEM to send home to your students, just click on this link to go to the packet!

Here is a peek at one of the Home Challenges!


Wouldn't you love to see what your kids could come up with each month?  As an incentive, we are giving every kid who participates a STEM-inspired pencil!  You can order personalized pencils from Oriental Trading Company for a great price!

Our first set of pencils say:  Look Out!  Future Engineer
Click here for the link to the pencils!  There are many different quantities available!

Do you have any other ideas to connect home and school with STEM projects?  We would love to hear about them in the comments!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Our First STEM Challenge ~ Tiny Glasses Challenge!

We do a STEM Challenge in our classroom every Friday afternoon!  They usually take about 40 minutes. We begin by going over the rules and the challenge question.  The students can ask any questions at this time.   This is the question...

What is the tallest structure you can make using 48 tiny glasses in  only 20 minutes?

The kids came up with some great ways to build the tallest structure!  After the 20 minutes of construction time was over, we debriefed by filling in the lab sheet and discussing the questions together.  Students use small post-it notes in order to fill in the STEM lab sheet as completely as possible as a group.  We post pictures of the challenge solutions as well as the lab sheets onto a bulletin board in our classroom.  This bulletin board changes every week!

Here are some of our solutions...







I bought 12 packs of tiny plastic (shot) glasses at the Dollar Tree for this challenge.  I placed two packs of tiny glasses in each baggie (6 total) and gave one baggie per table group.  Students also needed a tape measure at each table.  There is little set-up (other than buying the materials).  This challenge can get a little noisy as the plastic glasses hit the table and floor.

Why not try it in your classroom?  Here is the link to the challenge pack!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dollar Store Deals ~ Water Marbles, Orbs, Jelly Balls, etc...

Have you ever heard of Water Marbles? maybe Orbs?  or even Jelly Balls?  I gave a presentation at NSTA this year in San Antonio and I was surprised how many of the participants had never heard of them!  You can buy them on-line through Ebay or Amazon or even some science companies.  They can get a little pricey!  Here is a deal, though!  You can actually find them super cheap in the floral/craft department of the dollar store!  At my local Dollar Tree, one jar of them is $1!  WOW!


You can find them already hydrated or as tiny little balls (they almost look plastic).  Add water and they swell and become a little squishy and a lot of fun!

You can get these in almost any quantity on Ebay (and at a great price)!  These water marbles totally capture the kids attention!   They are always amazed by how they change once they are placed into the water.  While they are expanding in size, they contort into all kinds of weird shapes.  We hang up large sheet of white paper and the students write ANY questions they have about the water marbles.  We then decide which questions are testable and which ones are not.  If you are looking for a detailed water marble science lab packet, click here!

Make your Science Pop with Pop Rocks!


Who doesn't love Pop Rocks?  They were one of my favorite candies as a kid and I still like them now that I am all grown up!  They provide a cheap and fun way to get kids really psyched about science class (and even writing)!  I really like the Steve Spangler website, you can find very detailed directions and pictures of some great science labs there and they also have great must-have items to buy for your classroom!

One of his posts suggested trying Pop Rocks in different types of soda pop.  Here is the link to this FREE lab activity from Steve Spangler's site!


I love watching the kids' faces when they see this experiment firsthand!  One of my favorite things to do with Pop Rocks is to have the kids test not only soda pop, but WATER!  You will be amazed at the reaction the Pop Rocks have to the water!  Most kids will assume the soda pop produces the most gas...this extension to this experiment should generate a lot of questions to test!


Pop Rocks are also a great way to discuss adjectives!  Have your students come up with a list of words that can describe Pop Rocks!  You will find yourself immersed in all sorts of great words and you can discuss onomatopoeia (pop, snap, bang, boom)!

Let's get Poppin'!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Glow Stick Science Labs ~ Super Easy Set-Up & Cheap Materials!



Glow sticks have to be one of my favorite dollar store finds!  My own kids love them and my students also love them!  Why not try an experiment with glow sticks in your classroom or at home with your own kids?

Question -->  How does temperature effect the brightness of a glow stick?

Materials Needed:

- 3 clear glasses or beakers
- 3 glow sticks (same color)
- water (hot, room temperature and ice cold)

Start with a hypothesis... ask the kids what they think will happen!

Crack each glow stick and then place them into each glass of water. Wait about 5 minutes.  Make observations as you wait!  Here is the link to a great FREE lab for this experiment.


Can you guess what water temperature is in each glass?  

If you are interested in a more detailed lab packet with three glow stick labs, posters, etc. click here for the link!

I hope you will try this lab!  If you have your own ideas of science labs with glow sticks, please share below in the comments!

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