Saturday, November 21, 2015

Balloon Globe STEM Challenge

I love connecting STEM Challenges to other content areas, especially unexpected ones, like social studies.  After learning all about the continents, oceans, and lines of latitude and longitude, we created these Balloon Globes.

This STEM Challenge requires pretty easy to find and cheap materials.  Students just need punch balloons (I got a great deal on them at Amazon) and black sharpie markers.  We started by marking the equator and prime meridian, then I pretty much let the kids go to work.

They all turned out great and it was a hands-on, engaging way to check student understanding of these topics.  They also look fantastic hanging up in the hallway!

Looking for this STEM pack?  Click here!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Connecting Literature and STEM ~ The One and Only Ivan

I love finding opportunities to connect STEM Challenges with the books we are reading in class.  We read, "The One and Only Ivan", by Katherine Applegate.  This book is simply amazing.  It is the story of a silverback gorilla that spends 27 years of his life in a shopping mall as an attraction.  It is based on a true story.  We did a lot of discussing and a lot of persuasive writing with this book.

We also did a lot of STEM...

Of the five STEM challenges we did with this book, this was my students' favorite one.  They each got five straws, a piece of cardboard, some air-dry clay and a plastic zoo animal.  Their goal was to create a cage for their animal that could hold the most weight.  These pictures show our animal cages AFTER we tested them.

We had quite a few different ideas.  Students always get SO excited when we extend our reading into STEM challenge lessons.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Growing Indian Corn ~ A Monthly STEM Challenge

Each month I organize a STEM Challenge pack for the classrooms in my school.  These challenges are more long-term in nature.  (The baggies on the window are our bean seeds sprouting.)  Our October Challenge, was based on the question:

How tall can your class grow corn plants on an ear of Indian corn in only a pan of water?

The kids were so excited to get started on this challenge in my classroom.  We placed the ears of corn into tubs of water and then we waited.  After a few days, we already had sprouts!  Amazing!  After two weeks, we placed soil into the containers in order to continue growing the corn.

Some are growing better than others, but they are all growing.  We used one ear of Indian corn per table group.  We observe them weekly and water them as needed.

For each monthly STEM challenge, we pair a book or two.  For this challenge we used these books.


My students were fascinated with the information in both books.  We jigsawed the second book and students created informational posters of a two page spread of the book and then shared the information with the rest of the class.

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