Saturday, October 28, 2017

Great Pumpkin STEM Challenge

I've mentioned before that I teach an elective to 4th and 5th graders entitled “Digital Design Process.” It’s a remarkably fun class to teach, as I never know that I’m going to get from my students because creatively is uniquely wonderful and individual like that. In addition to talking to them about innovation, I’ve taught them how to be innovative with tools such as Buncee, Canva, Padlet, and more… and then we capture them in our digital portfolios with Seesaw—which adds a nice paper-free, environmental layer to the class.  Additionally, we also do some no-tech or low-tech STEM/Design challenges like “Trying to ReasonWith Hurricane Season.”

With Halloween around the corner, it seemed like the perfect time for another Design Challenge—this time regarding “The Great Pumpkin.” While I’m a major fan and grew up on “The Peanuts” cartoon strip by Charles Schwartz, the name stuck, but the direction of the cartoon didn’t fit with where my gears were turning.

But I was struck by a book I read lifetimes ago when I was teaching Kindergarten: “The Biggest Pumpkin Ever” by Steven Kroll. This delightful story has two little mice inadvertently giving the same pumpkin extra love, attention, and nutritional power, causing it to grow like gangbusters and be the greatest pumpkin ever. This led them on the need to transport their super-sized pumpkin to the center of town to be shared with their pumpkin-loving peers.

So the challenge for students: Create a transport system to carry a mini pumpkin, where the “you” in this situation is a 2 inch Playmobil character.  (As a mom of 2 kids, I had plenty of these guys.)  With odds and ends Legos (minus any wheels!), a collection of corks and craft sticks, a yard of string, and some rubber bands--and of course a mini pumpkin-- the stage is set for my designers to design, my creators to create, my builders to build, and my engineers to engineer!  Their li’l Playmobil guy (or gal) has to pull the pumpkin across the designated space to cross the finish line, with students only able to drag their guy (not the transportation system).

I can’t wait to put them into action this week! I’ll be sure to share pictures in a future post!

For more Halloween STEM Challenges:

No comments :

Post a Comment