Full STEAM Ahead with Chain Reactions!

I wrote a DonorsChoose.org project for Lakeshore Learning’s Create-A-Chain Reaction STEM Kit. This kit introduces students to force, gravity and motion in a fun yet relevant way. The kit comes with sturdy plastic pieces and laminated step by step instructions.

Students will develop important 21st century skills such as problem solving and collaboration as they work together to create chain reactions that actually work.

Lakeshore Learning is a super company to work with. Originally, I ordered the 3rd – 5th grade set, but they were too difficult for my students. Lakeshore Learning graciously allowed us to exchange it for the Pre K – 2nd grade set.


I love seeing my students’ excitement as they explore chain reactions!

 

RESOURCES

Kid K’NEX to the Rescue!

K’NEX building sets are in Makerspaces and classrooms all over the world. Sadly, only a few of my students seem interested in building with K’NEX. They love LEGOS but seem intimidated by the small, weirdly shaped K’NEX pieces.

That’s why I was excited to discover Kid K’NEX. The chunky, colorful Kid K’NEX pieces are very friendly and inviting, perfect for my younger students. This early exposure will help my students become comfortable and familiar with K’NEX as they develop building and engineering skills.

From the K’NEX website: “Kid K’NEX is colorful, hands-on and engaging. Kid K’NEX encourages students to be active participants in their learning, connecting their natural curiosity and creativity with a fundamental understanding of STEM concepts such as critical thinking, problem-solving, exploratory learning, and collaboration.”

Kid K’NEX is a hit in the Wilson Makerspace!  Part of our limitation is that we only have 15 – 20 minutes to build.  With Kid K’NEX, students can make multiple objects during this time frame.  The little critters are adorable, too!

RESOURCES

LEGO Murals

LEGOS are a great resource in a Makerspace as they encourage tinkering, building, and creative expression. They are comfortingly familiar yet provide a multitude of possibilities and challenges.

20170223_122811-2-2-2Pixel Art is a new concept for my students. I downloaded some examples for my students to try.

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My 4th and 5th graders caught on right away but it was a bit of a struggle for my 2nd and 3rd graders. Occasionally, it was hard to find the right LEGO brick in the right color so students had to get creative and experiment.

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I love watching my students work together to create these beautiful works of art.

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Harrisville Potholder Looms

Remember the good ol’ days at summer camp, weaving cotton loops on a square metal loom and proudly showing Mom and Dad the beautiful potholder you made just for them? Let’s bring the fun and excitement of weaving on a potholder loom to the Wilson Makerspace!

Weaving is an outlet for artistic expression as students mix and match colors and actually create new color combinations. Weaving encourages S.T.E.A.M. skills as it is a great introduction into sorting, shapes and patterns.

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I wrote a DonorsChoose.org project for these looms but before I did, I made sure that it was sustainable. We make “yarn” and loops for the potholder loom by cutting up old T-shirts.

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Puppets

 

 

A local church donated two huge bins of puppets to our Makerspace! 🙂

The students had a blast performing Jack in the Beanstalk.  We did several live shows for students visiting the library (and the principal!) but I quickly learned that the best way to involve as many students as possible was to videotape each scene and splice them together using iMovie. We also experimented with filming the scenes in front of green butcher paper and using Do ink Green Screen app to add a fairy tale background.

 

My students can’t wait to perform again!