- What experiences have your students had with structure building that depends on teamwork?
- Are students able to use the materials efficiently?
- Is the challenge appropriate for your age group?
- How did you manage the time?
- And, the #1 question is not a question at all. It’s this: Failure is okay.
Teamwork vs. Autonomy
Use of Materials
- How to clip with paper clips and clothespins
- How to fold paper to make a box
- How to cut tape in half and then in very small pieces to make it last
- How to attach string to things (so many kids cannot tie a double knot)
- How to fold paper to cut out a shape that is symmetrical
- How to use string as a tie-down to make a tall structure stand securely
These are just a few of the instant lessons that arise and here’s another tip: Teach it to one group and then have those experts help other groups!
A link is at the end about Materials!
There is a story about this tip and it’s another one I learned the hard way. The very first STEM Challenge I tried with fifth graders was about Saving the Food on a Hike. The team was supposed to build a structure that had a “pulley” system that could have a food bag attached to it. The food bag could be raised high enough to keep animals out of it. The premise of this challenge was that a group was hiking in an area that had no trees.
So, one day in first grade I decided to have the students build a maze. I knew how much my older students loved creating mazes, so I thought the little kids would have fun, too. Was this activity appropriate for their age?
To Sum It All Up:
- Procedures and ways to use materials wisely are important. Team building activities and a planning procedure really need to be part of getting ready for a STEM Challenge.
- Make sure the challenge is appropriate for your age group and make adjustments as you need to.
- Expect failure, but also expect a great learning time!