Sunday, November 19, 2017

Building Bridges: Part 2

Please see my first post,  Bridges Part 1, to see how we got started.
As I was leaving and packing up my bags the week I was introducing types of bridges,  I looked out at the construction going on and I spotted trusses.  We were so fortunate to go on a mini field trip the next day.  I was even given the blueprints of the trusses used to build our new snack shack and restrooms.
There are many great books, images and videos on the Internet.  We learned about the main types of bridges and parts.

Now to the design challenge.  My engineers had to build a bridge using exactly 50 Popsicle sticks(all cut pieces) that allows a car to pass and holds weight.  It had to have a minimum six inch.  Here are a few sketches:
This tool is amazing.  It cuts through Popsicle sticks and allows you to make angles.  I had my students wear eye goggles and supervised them while using.  They are sharp and pieces fly.
When gluing, use wax paper on top of cardboard or foam board.  Use a craft glue, I bought the new Elmer's Glue All and small refillable bottles.  I did not use the hot glue gun until the last day for any emergency repairs.  We worked in stages and spent three days building.

 A little overkill with the glue!!!!
I planned extra activities for students who were done gluing and waiting for things to dry.  There was a bridge sort, research bridge projects and making Lego bridges. 
Testing day was so much fun.  My students gathered around my big table and we tested each bridge for a car to travel on and that the bridge could hold weight.  There were a few groups whose bridge did not meet the size criteria.

Our bridge display

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Building Bridges: Part I

There are so many materials that your students can use to construct bridges.  I started my classes off with  a video from Mystery Science about the Golden Gate Bridge.  Mystery Science is  a new website that is amazing!!!!  You can sign up for a free trial for one year and then they require a paid subscription.  Our school has purchased it for our teachers.  The videos are engaging, interactive and give science lessons a real purpose/connection.  The lessons are aligned to the NGSS standards and come with lessons and resources.  The website is for K-5.  I teach fifth grade and used the lesson for third and found it was appropriate and aligned to my engineering standards.

My students used paper to construct bridges and tested them for strength using pennies.  It was a great starting point to observe failure points and introduce vocabulary.  The recording sheet is available on their website.

Here is another video you can use with your students.
Here is a great literature connection available on Amazon.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

STEM Tower Challenge with a Freebie

I am a little behind in my blogging!  I am teaching my dream job this year, fifth grade engineering.  They have a STEAM special block and have one semester of engineering. I will service about 400 students this year!!!  I have been so busy planning/implementing a new curriculum, running a maker-space club, participating in school council and co-chairing our elementary science committee.  

My first module was called Engineering 101.  It was an introduction to engineering, technology and structures.  Our first challenge was to construct the tallest tower with a specific list of materials.  You can adapt the materials for your grade level and what you have available.  
The Challenge
Click the link to get a free copy of the challenge: Tower Challenge
I set up the materials on the counter and had students collect on foam trays.  I bought the trays at my Dollar Store.  Students are now bringing them in for our recycle center.
Here is a great literature connection, Iggy Peck Architect.  I love this series!!!!
The tallest tower was over five feet!!!!
Keeping Organized
I have five homerooms and assigned each homeroom a color.  I keep their sheets in folders(Amazon).
I got the trays from a grant on Donor's Choose.  They are from Lakeshore Learning.  Oriental Trading has a set with more colors.  I added a set of gray trays(Amazon) for my fifth class.  When we are building they store their items/materials on their class color trays.  I have 4 trays for each homeroom.

Craft Trays