Eagle Creek Academy's STEM Lab
STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Math
STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Math
Kindergarten: Inclined Planes, Gravity and Friction
After discussing gravity and friction, students learned about the inclined plane (a.k.a. ramp). Students made predictions about how fast their cars would go, depending on the height of various inclined planes, different forms of friction on the ramp, and different forms of friction on the ground beyond the ramp. Then, they tested their predictions, made observations, recorded their data and formed conclusions about ramp height and friction types.
Grade 3: Testing the Strength of Paper
We made paper columns, then folded them into differently shaped columns (triangular prism, rectangular prism, and cylinder) to test which type of column would support more books. Using just one sheet of paper and two small pieces of tape, the children got the cylindrical column to support nine hardcover books! (See the above picture!)
Grades 5 to 8: Build it!
Students in 5th to 8th grades worked in small groups to replicate a structure. Then, one team member had to view the structure and explain how to build it. The challenge was in explaining how to do it IN WORDS only. The children did a great job!
Grades 4 to 8: Saving Fred the Worm
To kick off our STEM class this year, the 4th to 8th grade students had to save Fred the Worm from drowning and get him to his lifesaving raft. Each group constructed a raft and created a flowchart and a written description of the process, including the challenges they faced.
4th & 5th Grades: Catapults
Students enjoyed researching catapults and how they are built. Then, we gathered materials and built mini-catapults that could throw little candy pumpkins. As the students built their catapults, they tested and re-tested their logic and measurements. When all the small groups were finished, we tested each final product for distance and accuracy. Some of the parents were so into the project that we organized a Saturday Club during which the parents built large catapults and threw large pumpkins. We called it "Chunk'n Punkins" and invited all the grade levels to watch the final parent contest.
We want all our students -- including the youngest ones -- to practice finding answers for themselves. Watch this quick video as some Kindergarten students figure out how to close a circuit to make a light go on.
First Grade: Stop Motion Animation
Students worked in small groups to create quick stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end (an initial incident, some rising action, and a climactic moment). Then, they molded figures from clay and practiced having the figures act out the story. Next, they placed each figure in a spot, took a picture, moved the appropriate figures, took another picture, and so on, until they had a series of pictures to tell the story. Finally, they ran the pictures together to make a very short "stop motion" movie.
Grade 2: Building the Strongest Bridge
Using two plastic cups and a sheet of paper, the students built bridges. As a part of the experiment, they formed the paper into different shapes and tested each shape to see which one made the strongest bridge. To determine which bridge was strongest, the children estimated how much weight each bridge could hold. Then, they tested their estimates by placing pennies on the bridges until they broke. The students concluded that triangular-shaped bridges were the strongest.
Grade 4: Maker Space
Universities across the country are incorporating "maker spaces" into their Tech buildings. Students can use the space to make assigned projects or just to create and have fun. These spaces usually offer a huge variety of materials and equipment. Recently, in our maker space, our fourth graders enjoyed using Strawbees to practice some engineering concepts. Their joy was contagious!
Grades 6 to 8: Building Roller Coasters
Students worked in pairs to create paper roller coasters. Each coaster included at least one original element. Then, the students calculated the potential energy and the kinetic energy of their rolling marbles. Later, the students went on an overnight field trip to Cedar Point, where they took a class on the engineering behind roller coasters and spent a day on the rides.
Grades 1 to 8: Coding
Students worked hard to complete 20 one-hour modules of computer coding. Although some of the hours were online tutorials, we also had many “unplugged” hours. For example, we learned to line dance the Cupid Shuffle, which helped us understand the concept of looping in code. To learn about debugging and the pressure of deadlines, we played a relay game in which teams had to write one line of graph code at a time and debug the mistakes the teammates made. In the end, although the online hours made us use our brains, the physical activities were fun, and we all learned a lot about computer programming.