It’s time for your classroom observation and you want the most engaging activities to share with your administrator. Let’s try STEM!
Yes, you read that right! STEM projects can be engaging, unique, full of learning and teamwork, and share your organizational skills.
That makes a STEM Challenge the perfect lesson for your classroom observation. Let me show you how!
What is your goal during the observation?
That is a great question! We all want our students to use their best behaviors, stay engaged, and participate. Can a STEM Challenge do this?
Yes! Engagement is usually high during a STEM Challenge. I find that even quiet, shy students will participate during a challenge. I also consistently find that behavior is excellent. We are busy, we must all work together, and the fast-paced activities keep us involved.
However, the STEM Activities I am sharing with you have more to offer!
STEM for Classroom Observations
When our administrator is in the room we must be aware of many other things that will create success!
- Can we add another subject? Maybe reading and STEM.
- Will the STEM Challenge keep all students engaged? I have some that will!
- What about preparation? Let’s try an easy-prep STEM activity!
- How can we make sure teamwork is on display? Boy, do I have the perfect challenge for this!
Let’s get going with 4 perfect STEM Challenges that will meet your needs during your observation!
A Challenge using a Picture Book and Math
This Popcorn STEM Challenge is perfect for incorporating engineering, reading, and math. It’s also easy prep.
I use The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola. It is a lengthy book so I flip through it with students and share only a few pages.
The main page I want them to see shows archaeologists exploring a cave and finding petrified popcorn.
The challenge is to build a container that will perfectly hold and transport the popcorn.
Students use paper and tape to design their containers and we test the size with real popcorn. Engagement is high and curiosity about the sizes of the containers and which ones will work is fun.
After the challenge is completed we talk about volume and how important that measurement is.
For your observation, you have read a picture book, kept students engaged, and taught a math lesson!
An Engaging Challenge that Creates 100% Enthusiasm
Without a doubt, this Building Boats STEM Challenge is the best ever! I have never had a group that did not love this.
It works for all ages – with some adaptations. I have tried it with first grade through fifth grade and they all enjoy it.
There is a little more prep, but it’s still easy!
You will need a pan of water, some towels, tape, and building materials. We also use pennies as weights for the boats.
You will love this because of the interest your students will show. It becomes competitive as the boats sink and need to be modified. Every team will want to make their boat the best one.
Here is why your admin will love this! Total engagement. Every student will take part. The final testing with weights to show the improved boats is magnificent.
I gather everyone around a central table with the pan of water and we all watch as team after team floats their boat and adds weight until it takes on water. We record the amount of weight and cheer when boats stay afloat.
It’s exciting and your principal will be there cheering, too!
Easy Prep STEM Challenges are Great for Observations
Engaging, competitive, and a little wacky, but also easy-prep. That’s the Spaghetti Challenge.
You need string, tape, raw spaghetti, and one large marshmallow (per team).
Teams build a tower to hold the marshmallow aloft. This is a challenging project, but one that showcases improvements teams must make to the tower during the building time.
They also learn about balancing, counterbalancing, and using materials wisely.
This STEM activity is perfect for your observation because it’s so easy to put together. But, your principal will love the “think-outside-the-box” idea of the challenge. The perseverance of teams is amazing and impressive for your admin to see!
Let’s Talk about Teamwork during your Observation!
Keeping students engaged, teaching across multiple subjects, easy prep, and showing your students working in teams is part of your observation.
So, let’s try the absolutely perfect challenge for teamwork!
I call it Platform Towers or Rotation Towers.
Here’s the premise: Teams are building a tower with multiple levels. Each level has its own rules. The materials are cardboard, straws, craft sticks, and tape.
Sounds easy, right? Oh, no, there is a big twist.
Each team begins by assembling only step 1 of the tower. A task card tells them exactly what to build. The team views all the materials and builds the first part- in 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes every team rotates to the next table. Now, every team builds part 2 of the tower. But the team is building by adding to a tower started by a different team.
What if that team didn’t carefully consider the materials? What if the new team needs something already used?
After 5 minutes we rotate again and build part 3. You can see where this is going. Now, think about how your admin will love this.
Each team must adjust its thinking and its original plan to continue the tower and make it work. And then repeat this after every rotation.
It’s a fabulous challenge and one that creates a lot of discussion at the end.
These are all perfect challenges for your observation! Each has something unique to offer and all are easy-prep! Which one will you try?
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