Are you ready to tackle a STEM activity?
Do you need easy prep? Easy directions? Something for teamwork?
I’ve got you covered with a really, really, really easy STEM task using only ONE material.
I mean, how simple is this? Paper. One sheet. One piece of paper. Yes, copy paper- in any color. You will also need tape or staplers.
The kids were told this:
“Make a paper chain with one sheet of paper. You may cut it and you may use tape or staples. Your goal is to make the longest chain you can.”
Many teams did what you see in this photo. They cut strips of paper and folded them end to end to make a traditional interlocking paper chain.
This was interesting to watch as they created assembly lines to make the strips, tape, and add the next strip.
Some finished chains…
The one in the top photo was made by a group of third graders that did not know how to make an interlocking chain, but knew how it should look. So, they drew it on paper! Can you see the pencil marks? Then they cut it out and then cut the centers out. That was it- there was not enough paper left to add to it. But, what a great effort.
The bottom photo is showing another unique method.
The team cut out tiny circles and then taped them together. Their final chain was very short because it took so long to make the circles.
The Longest Chains
Every year the longest chains are the ones made like these photos. Straight narrow strips of paper taped end-to-end.
Our longest ever was 31 feet.
Of course, this type of “chain” is always controversial. Is it a chain?
The first time I saw the straight method of a chain I started hearing the complaints as soon as I started to stretch the chains out on the floor to share I heard kids complaining that the “chains” that were just strips of paper were not real chains.
So, I said, “What is a chain?” We pieced together all the responses and basically decided a chain is anything that is connected. A chain of events, a chain reaction, a chain necklace. But it does not have to be interlocking circles. So, why did we immediately think the straight line chains were unfair?
It’s all about our perception of the task. We each bring our own perspective or perception to each task and this is why we sometimes disagree, but by listening to one another we can work out the best possible way to complete a task. It was a DELIGHTFUL discussion and I had a student say this, “But, Mrs. Davis, isn’t that what life is?” Wow!
Yes, life is about not letting your perceptions, perspectives, or prejudices be your only way to make a decision! I decided this was a perfect way to start our year in the STEM Lab! One material, a little bit of tape, great fun, and the ultimate in teamwork! How long will your chains be?
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