Oh. My. Goodness. We had the BEST time making these little satellite towers!
This tower idea was hatched after talking with some students that love to build towers. They requested just a box of materials and time to just build a tower. Well, as much as that sounded like fun, I also thought there should be a reason for it.
Then two days later I happened to see a row of satellite dish devices lining the back of an apartment complex. Every balcony had one and some had two! I thought, “Why doesn’t that apartment complex just have one big satellite dish or tower that everyone can access? BAM! New Stem Idea!
This one has the ULTIMATE in COLLABORATION! This is one of my favorite ways to use a STEM challenge. Take a look at the video and then I will give you some tips!
How does the Satellite Tower work?
Here’s the deal. One group. Two teams.
One team builds the tower. One team build the satellite dish.
To begin the challenge each team needs its own materials. They have different items in their bins. Each team knows what to build (the lab sheets are designed for this)!
One team build the satellite dish while the other builds the tower that will hold it aloft.
They must communicate their ideas as they plan and then begin building because the two parts will eventually be connected.
The photo to the left is showing a team working on the satellite dish. We used foam trays and clear cups for this.
Will the two parts fit correctly? Will the tower stand up to the weight of the dish? Will the dish follow the rules of the task? (One of the rules was that the dish must rotate!)
Students loved the problem-solving that they encountered. The plans of ways to attach the two parts fell through the most because of the turning requirement.
We had quite a bit of improving going on as the final minutes ticked away!
The towers were made in many different ways. You can see the one to the left has a wide base and the teams placed a clear cup under the foam tray.
They expected the cup to turn around the straw legs of the tower. but found this needed many modifications due to the weight of the tray on top.
The last part of the task was to give the satellite towers a name.
We had many clever names:
“S.I.S” – which meant the Space International Satellite.
The Satellite Tower was an awesome challenge! It made us collaborate between two teams and I loved it. It was so interesting to hear the conversations and see the two teams helping one another. #kidsneedstem
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