First through Fifth grade classes are all about midway through their Engineering Design Process Loop challenge of taking an ordinary simple object such as a straw, popsicle stick, or plastic spoon, and creating a new object that is equally useful. Most classes have been working this week on blueprinting their solution ideas incorporating the starting object into their design and making a list of materials they will need in order to create their new designs. This is the Planning step in the Engineering Design Process, and we have been comparing this step to planning for a trip to the grocery store. The students are able to easily identify the need for creating a "shopping list" or a materials list before they begin the creation stage of the process.
The student have also taken a pretest on the Engineering Design Process to assess their own knowledge of the process. We corrected the quizzes in class, and the students have glued them into their STEM journals for reference.
We should be beginning to Create their designs this next week. I know the students are certainly looking forward to this stage of the process. This has been a learning process for them, especially in self control as most of them have wanted to just dive right into creating their items from the get-go. I think one of the biggest challenges for most of the groups has been sticking within the limits of the challenge. For safety reasons, students had to refrain from creating projectile objects with their straws and spoons.
Meanwhile, Kindergarteners have been busily enjoying sorting buttons. Each week there have been different sets of buttons for them to sort. Their only directions were to work in pairs to sort the buttons. They were responsible for coming up with their own criteria for sorting and grouping the buttons. Its been interesting and exciting to see some of their reactions to these directions; however, all of the students have been able to rise to the challenge. The students also needed to be able to explain their criteria for sorting. We are discovering that the buttons can be sorted by colors, shapes, sizes (big and small, as some of them have put it), and patterns. In our journals, we have been working on a mind map to explain the different ways we can sort the buttons, and have been doing some journal writing about our sorting. The sorting is a great math, science, and life skill for the students. The buttons also help the students with their fine motor development, especially when they have to pick them up from the slick table tops. They can continue to practice their sorting skills at home by sorting dried beans, small candy pieces (like M&Ms or Skittles), Legos, their toys, or even socks. You can also have them count the number in each group and compare which group or color has the most, and which has the least. Look for graphs of their sorting in the coming week.