Simple STEM Activities

Students enjoyed the challenges of creating, making and exploring different activities this year not even realizing that they were fully engaged in learning the principles of many STEM subjects.

Here are a few of the activities they liked:

The girls had fun creating their own kaleidoscope with cardboard tubes, reflective mylar card, beads and sequins. The reflections bounced off of one another as the light passed through the tube, creating the patterns. When the kaleidoscopes were rotated it changed the position of the beads and subsequently altered the image. Girls learnt about light, reflections and physics of light and colour. As well as measuring and constructing two cylinders where one would fit into the other, then measuring the mylar card into 3 rectangles to fit into the tube…plenty of maths!

Girls created themed dioramas with simple winches and circular belts/ pulleys. During this activity the girls discovered how winches, pulleys and circular belts worked….. engineering and science principles! Plenty of problem solving with placement, fixed axles, and tension! Students used skewers and fishing line for the winches and added a paper clip to pull the circular pulley.

This was a fun activity using permanent markers to draw on a clear plastic envelope, then putting a dark sheet of paper into the envelope to make a dark scene. The girls made a white torch shape to spotlight things in the picture…. bringing it to life! Many challenged me to find hidden objects in their picture……. much like ‘Where’s Wally’.

 

Engineering is about finding out how things are built, how they work and why. Hands-on engineering activities empower young children to see themselves as problem solvers. Engineering nurtures problem-solving and critical thinking skills, including problem groundwork, iteration, testing, and evaluation. Read more on this blog post http://tinkeringchild.com/engineering-with-winches-and-pulleys/

The girls drew and planned a story first, labelling parts and materials to be used, obviously these changed as the build progressed. A scenario where a winch and conveyor belt were included in the story was their task. Using materials from the Makerspace for example: cardboard, cylinders, skewers, fabric, air-dry clay.

Girls always enjoy designing and making games for each other to play. Using materials from the Makerspace girls made basketball games, fishing with magnets, throwing and pinball games. They loved adding LittleBits for light and sound too!

Girls made magnet maze challenges. They used the mitre box to cut 45 degree angles to make a frame in balsa wood. They designed a maze which was then replicated with straws in their frame on card. The girls enjoyed the challenge by having a theme for example, Nemo avoiding coral to get home, the lost diamond finds its ring! And Mickey Mouse finds Minnie Mouse! Plenty of problem-solving and getting the hang of using a mitre box.

As Christmas is coming the girls recycled glass jars into Christmas Night Lights. Mixing glue and paint to frost the jar first, followed by planning and designing images to paint for Christmas. The girls used a small battery powered tea light.

All of these activities were carried out by girls from grade 4 to grade 6.

 

 

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Jackie Child
Jackie Child has been teaching primary aged students for 40 years in a number of countries. She is passionate about how children learn through constructivist pedagogy. She is a Teacher Librarian at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School and a sessional tutor at Griffith University for pre-service teachers. Jackie doesn’t believe in standing still, there is always plenty to ‘do’ and learn!

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