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Showing posts with label simple machines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label simple machines. Show all posts

Winter Science Quick Ideas

Hey...it's Renee over at the Science School Yard where I teach 400 kindergarten through fifth graders science each week! I was asked last week what type of activities can I do quickly in my classroom with no supply budget that will actually teach a quick science concept when students are getting antsy for a break.
Time For Ice Fishing and Magnetism!

Seeing that winter is almost here, and a break is in sight here in the US let's take a look at some primary and intermediate ideas that won't break the bank unlike our Christmas shopping list!

For Primary Classrooms:
-Grab the book Snowflake Bentley and catch snowflakes outside on black paper, then come inside for a lesson on snowflakes followed up with making cutout snowflakes. (No snowflakes? Make them and hang them first! Here is a great video to share as well..

 Did you make snowflakes? Place a poem in the center or quick science facts they learned and you have tied in a writing lesson, too!

-Time to talk hibernation and migration! Lots of animals are getting ready for a long rest. Make a list of animals that might hibernate...ground hogs, bears, snakes... you can also grab a quick pack that will help you teach each part of STEM as well! Find a STEM Hibernation Pack HERE! Building a habitat for an animal to hibernate is can be as simple as getting 10's and 100's blocks out!

Technology connections with smartboard or iPad activities!


Tie in some math and you are set for a great hibernation station!
-Do you have some Hot Wheels or toy cars? Grab some boxes found around school, cut them into pieces to make some ramps, grab some dictionaries from the school library, and you have a lesson on force and motion! Predict what might happen if we make ramps that are steep or not as steep. Test how far a car will travel down a ramp. A tip with littles, if you have tiles...count the number of tiles it went. Then add another book, predict...will the car go farther or not as far? A great STEM connection...have them make their own cars out of milk cartons from lunch, straws from the lunchroom or dollar stores and tape. (You will need to make sure it rolls by creating an axle which could be one big straw outside a smaller straw taped to the bottom of your carton...don't forget the wheels!) Cut wheels out of boxes and you have a cheap way to add a force and motion lesson...or two! Make connections with a great book like Sheep In A Jeep or a great video with lots of easy facts!

A quick video on what ramps are helps them visually learn about simple machines, too! It sure makes work easier!

Back to force and motion...I even taped paper together with the colors of the rainbow and taught them force and motion through a fun and interactive race! They pick a color out of the bucket and then have to push their car to that color...the closest car wins. Did you have to push it soft or hard? Was it close or far? Again...a quick and cheap lesson on motion and positional words!


For Intermediate Classrooms:

-What would we do without water? There are lots of different activities that you can do to learn about it! Surface tension and how many drops can sit on a penny! What do you need? Droppers, pennies, and water. Try salt water and soapy water, too. Want more water ideas? Try surface tension and how water acts on different surfaces. Try what water drops do on paper towel, wax paper, white paper, foil...whatever you have laying around your kitchen or at school. Try a water bead race after making a track on paper. Can they get a bead to follow a path on wax paper? A fun follow up on what a bead of water does on different surfaces! There are some great books out there so give Scholastic's Book list a try!

-Let's look at those Hot Wheels! The fourth grade NGSS Energy Standard has students looking at energy in motion and what happens when objects collide or meet focusing on change of speed. Get those books and set up a way to create a slope with older students, but utilize the standards set for intermediate learners. The NGSS site is a great place to get ideas, here is a great start! How can you tie the standards to a quick energy lesson? If you have cups and string, can you add a sound lesson and make telephones to show how energy is transferred through solids? Could you use flashlights to test how light travels through a glass of water, on a wall when your close and far away? How does this relate to stars in the sky and how distance can cause a star to look bright or dim?

-Use a hanger if you don't have a scale. Place baggies with objects in them to weigh different items. Show that air has weight by having air in one baggie and a flattened baggie on the other end. You can  teach the three states of matter.  Show  ice, water, and steam from a coffee maker. Go on a matter hunt in magazines and make posters. Easily, you can make pancakes which also shows all three states of matter! Mix=solid, Water=liquid, Steam=gas. You can even tie in that it was a liquid, but now a solid! A cheap treat and a science lesson!

-Finally, salt as well as sugar can be a great way to teach solubility by testing which one can dissolve more in water? Sugar is more soluble! Can you place the liquids in lids and evaporate the liquid off? Take a look a the crystals! Observe what is left behind. Older students love snow flakes crystals, too! Snowflake Bentley...here we come!

It is never easy balancing everything you need to teach in a given day...from reading, to math...from writing to science, with a mix of some social studies, how can we make it a bit easier? I will always say integrate when you can. Grab that picture book or non-fiction resource and take a look at the science standards you need to be using...take a look at school for free or inexpensive options. Add written observations, a story, or even a poem and you tied in literacy and writing!

Another great strategy for your supply list... I love putting a donation box outside my classroom with a list of needs. I get egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, and an occasional ball of yarn and even some surprises at times. (a parent donated sparkly silver paper!) When you are creative and resourceful, you can make it work! If you need a bit of guidance...the http://www.scienceschoolyard.com/ is ready to help you make science child's play!

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Best STEM Challenge EVER

Each year, I teach a simple machines unit. Each year, I try to figure out ways to integrate STEM ideas into the mix. This year, I wanted to find ways to engage my learners right away. Sometimes the simplest thing to do is grab simple items to create the perfect STEM project!
Renee The Best STEM Challenge Ever header.jpg
The best part...you just need  4 simple supplies or less for the each challenge. The first challenge is to create a way to get the cup of cubes to the top of the table. This is all I gave them:

 Toilet paper tubes, a cup of cubes, string, and tape. The best challenge

The second challenge that we did  was to make a way to move a cup of candy from one side of the room to another without using your hands to touch the cup. All I gave them for this challenge was spoons, rubber bands, and tubes.

The best part about these two challenges is that each design was so uniquely different. Each team was able to work together to find a solution to each problem and after they completed the challenge they shared what they created!

Now, this is the kicker...I was sick one of the days my classes did these challenges. Boy, did I realize that one of the integral components of setting up STEM challenges is to really SET...IT...UP.  What they were able to accomplish when I was there, instead of the sub,  was significant. It got me thinking... how can anyone make a STEM challenge the best EVER?

What I learned about making this STEM challenge the best ever is that as the facilitator of a STEM challenge, you must get them engaged. You must set the stage with everything they will need to complete the challenge. Consider these components:


1. How will you give them supplies? I set out a table with the items they can use. Each team is numbered and I send a special number to get what is needed.

2. What are the constraints as well as expectations? The first challenge was about moving an object from the floor to the table. This could be done as a pulley system or in some cases groups made a lever. We were able to share and explain as we observed the final product.

3. How will you get them excited about the activity? This can be done with a picture book, a question, or even a problem that needs solving. In both challenges I posed a problem that needed solving.

4. How much time will you give for a challenge. Our first challenge was 10 minutes. The second challenge was a race!


It is one thing to give your learners supplies and a challenge, it is another thing to remember to add the engineering process to each challenge you offer. We chose a simple machine challenge and it was perfect for learning several simple machines. They loved them so much that I have had to design a new challenge to show the other simple machines. Any STEM project can be your best STEM challenge ever! Setting it up for success is the key!

I have included my Simple Machines Unit that I use to add even more STEM stations including our annual Cardboard Arcade! Find my Simple Machines Pack HERE!
I challenge you to also make STEM challenges something your learners will say..."That was the best STEM challenge EVER!"

More Amazing STEM Challenges Your Students Will LOVE

Click on any of the images below to read about more STEM challenges from other STEM educators.
Brittany Washburn
Digital STEM Challenges
Boat STEM Meredith Anderson
Cargo Ship STEM
Get Caught Engineering
Animal Adaptations STEM
Brooke Brown - Teach Outside the Box
Roller Coaster STEM
Vivify STEM
STEM Space Lander
More Than a Worksheet
Paper Chain STEM
STEM to STEAM Trio
Sammie STEAM Challenge
Teachers are Terrific
Toothpick Tower STEM
Science School Yard
Simple Machines Challenges

Graphics and Font Credits: KG Fonts and PhotoClipz

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STEM and Simple Machines

For several years, I have been using a Cardboard Arcade Pack that I simply love because it helps fill the weeks in with great activities that help students understand the FOSS Levers and Pulleys Unit better. This year, our fifth graders are a little more squirrely so I wanted to give them opportunities to build and create by adding some STEM lessons to the pack. The 5th graders have absolutely loved being able to build and create and then apply it to what we are learning in our FOSS pack about levers and pulley...but so much more we build on what we have already done. Our variables lessons at the end the year go perfectly with building a vehicle using wheels and axles and testing the variable of height to see how far the vehicle will travel!

Learning the six simple machines and combining it with STEM opportunities is also helpful. I presented the students with a challenge to help them better understand how a simple machine will help make their job easier.

Last week, I wrote about creating pulleys, now we are adding inclined planes and wheel and axle to our learning. Again, we use the scientific process to build.
Testing our wheel and axles on an inclined plane!

1. I first pose the question, "What simple machine can you build that will help a Beanie Baby get down an inclined hill?" "Will you push or pull it?" "How can we test how different heights of an inclined plane change how far the vehicle will go?"

2. I allow for them to predict and plan what they would build on their own. Then, I let each person share out.

3. Each team picks an idea to use and they create a materials list. Once that list is made, one person gets all of the supplies.

4. They get time to build their vehicle. If time remains, they can soup it up.

5. The next time we meet, (I only get an hour with them each week) I present the experiment using the variable of height. This is our first FOSS unit of the year, so we are revisiting what we already learned about controls and variables! I show them how to set up the experiment and then we go outside to set it up as a team.

Proud of their finished product and the fun they had!
6. They observe and record and then share out as a whole group. We finish up by making a graph to record the class results and understand that the higher the inclined plane the farther the vehicle will go. We also share other ways that this is true. Skiing, sledding, driving in a car...

Once again, finding ways to make your science classroom more hands on and exciting will help your students weather the storm of the end of the year wiggles. STEM is one way to do that!

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Simple Machines and STEM Solutions

It is time to start our last FOSS box for 5th grade...sorry if someone out there loves the levers and pulleys box, but my students don't seem to like that one very much. Soooooo....how do I fix that? We start by learning about the six simple machines and then we finish with our cardboard arcade that incorporates all of the simple machines!

We first start off using our science notebooks to write down what we think the 6 simple machines are. This is fun to watch. Then, I share the simple machines on an anchor chart with an example. I don't show videos very often, but Bill Nye is great for introductions.

I use sentence stems...I have found that giving sentence starters/stems for the students helps them focus on what they should be looking for while watching a show or answering questions after an experiment.

Watching Bill Nye Simple Machines allowed us to find examples and make connections. Here is what we used:

1. A ______________ reminds me of ______________.

2.  I was surprised that __________________________.

3. The effects of using simple machines ____________.

4. An example of each simple machine includes_________.


After we are done sharing with our groups what we learned...I pose a problem. I give each group a weight and ask them to use our STEM Store to create a simple machine that will bring the weight from the floor to the top of the table.

 I give them time to draw an idea and then share and build. Once they are done building...the students share what they were able to create.
These two examples are very different than each other...but that is what is great about STEM Challenges...

Teamwork and sharing are two other great benefits! Now...we add the FOSS Pulley Lessons....
Here is the current pack Simple Machines Cardboard Arcade found in my store. I will be adding some great new activities as I update this pack this month. After using this pack many times I still love the activities, but after doing STEM challenges for the last two years I love seeing how the kids love to be engaged each week with a new Simple Machines Challenge. FOSS friends....I love adding this pulley challenge...using the first grade wheels to make a vehicle with an inclined plane challenge....stay tuned!

Easy STEM solutions allow for students to find quick ways to learn about a subject by investigating, creating, and sharing. By letting my students create a solution by connecting what they learned in a video to solving a simple problem of how to get something from the floor to the table gave them ownership!  That is what we need to include in our routine to get our students ready for the jobs of tomorrow!
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St. Patrick's Day STEM Stations

I wanted to challenge my older students to some STEM stations that would lead into our FOSS Levers and Pulleys Unit. I came up with two great ways for for 5th graders to test their engineering skills using St. Patrick's Day themes the pulley and the conveyor belt. I did the conveyor belt lesson today because I won't see these kiddos next week because they are off to our school forest.

Here is how we made magic happen...lessons and all...

First, I asked them what a conveyor belt is. They weren't really sure. So I showed them my favorite Lucille Ball skit...
The kids loved it. We followed up with what is a conveyor belt? They now were able to come up with a list that helped them make sense of what they were going to build. Pizza ovens at Dominoes, the grocery store check out, the airport flat transporter (love that one...they didn't have a name for it...it is actually called a moving walkway), and my favorite at the beer tour we took were a few of my favorites!

I then showed them several quick videos that helped them see their examples in action. I then gave them time and tools to build a conveyor belt. First...they designed...then executed. Many had to modify and adjust. Then, we finally shared! They turned out awesome! Here is a quick movie to show you our final products!
Amazing team work and collaboration!

Here is the pack if you are interested in St. Patrick's Day STEM fun! Find it at my TPT store HERE.

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Simple Machines...Rube Goldberg...and Simple Science

To make science simple...all you need is a bag of goodies per table.

**I added 8 Jenga blocks, a paper towel tube , a little car, a bull's eye, a plastic figure, and a marble.

I asked my students to see if they could use all of the supplies to make the plastic figure land on the bull's eye on the floor. This a simple, yet easy way for your students to work together to problem solve!

I love to show this video to get them thinking...

I share with them what a Rube is... a contraption, invention, device, or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very simple task in a very complicated way usually with a chain reaction.


There you have it...Simple science! Try it in your school yard! For more ideas, check out my Rube Goldberg Engineering Pack on TPT! Tons of great engineering ideas to make science easier!


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Rube Goldberg Visits Our Science Class


For the next two weeks we are finishing up our Simple Machines Unit...FOSS Levers and Pulleys have guided us...but now it is time to have some engineering fun with two weeks left to go we really need to step outside the box!

I created a pack for two reasons...I needed to find some fun Rube Goldberg projects easy enough to finish within our hour...as well as create a pack for my College For Kids Class. The majority of my kiddos are girls this year and I am excited to be teaching engineering classes for 4th - 6th graders at our local university! I used the following videos to guide me...
And...

These are two great examples of Rube Goldberg's for kids to get excited about! And...you got to get the game Mouse Trap to show the kids. It is a pain to set up...but this video is a great example to show if you want to have the kids make a mouse trap of their own!
I provided my kiddos with a bag of goodies. I told them they had to use everything in the bag in order to create a Rube to get a dinosaur onto an X marks the spot on the floor. Each team worked together to make it happen. Love it!
X marks the spot!



Rube In Action...Eyeing it up before it's in motion!

Teamwork to make it work!
Working backwards...helped this team with success!

Our second job was to work as a team to develop a picture that shows a pizza delivery using all 6 simple machines. The teams must work together to draw and explain it once they are done!
I love how this project shows a Rube like cartoon and they have to also work as a team!

Not sure if I would want my pizza to fly through an open window, but...gotta love the creativity!
Check out my Rube Goldberg Pack! What a great way to start or end your school year or anywhere in between!

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Cardboard Arcade Fun and Games

Well...the cardboard arcade is upon us! We are in our second round of games. Take a look at these amazing games and all of the smiling faces! The idea of taking cardboard boxes and turning them into amazing carnival games...games that our students play then at our school carnival...making money for books and computers and all those things we have a hard time buying due to budget cuts...is simply amazing. This year's games outdo anything we have seen... and all our kiddos need is a bit of imagination...encouragement...a few supplies and...
Using simple machines...inclined plane and screws!

Battleship! Using pulleys and wheel and axle!


Skee Ball! Using and inclined plane!

This was a fun monster madness game using a pulley system and an inclined plane!

Seriously one of the most creative games, but lacked the simple machine aspect...

Color Dance using levers and an inclined plane to dance ...dance...dance!

The kiddos from other classes came in to play the games and vote for the ones to be in our school carnival! So many amazing games to choose from! This is a fun fishing game!

Here is my absolute favorite! Foos Ball! Using wheel and axle for the score keeping, inclined plane  for the slots, styrofoam handles, and a pickle lid for the foos ball...it was amazing!

Engineering at its best. I am using this for my College for kids class and can't wait to see what they can do!
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