Sometimes you get tired of the “new” thing in education.
Well, I was tired of hearing, reading, and/or discussing “STEM”or “STEAM”, whichever you prefer.
I really didn’t understand what the big deal was until we participated in Jen Wagner’s “Marble Run Challenge.”
Now don’t get me wrong, my kids code, we integrate tech, etc, but I had never done a STEM project.
The concept was simple. The kids had to design a structure for a marble to run through. We started out with time limits, but realized, due to our limited time, we would just concentrate on seeing how long it took the marble to make it through the structure.
Notice the use of the word “we”. This was a project that was guided by the students.
I wish I could teach like this all year. Talk about engagement! Every day, and I literally mean every day, they BEGGED to work on their structures.
They worked on it during Quiet Time, so essentially it wasn’t Quiet Time anymore, but who cares? They worked on it during… whenever I could sneak some time in.
You know what? More learning went on in those moments…
The team names. Hilarious!:)
Getting their own supplies(I was supposed to get the supplies, but they got tired of waiting for me.)
Calling, texting, using Google chat to talk to each other at home.
Resolving problems among themselves.(And calling out the slackers.)
Parents sending in supplies for their kids.
The willingness to try over and over and over.
We had a competition at the end, what they had all worked so hard for. Parents were invited. Some of the marbles went all the way through, some didn’t. But that was okay. They talked about the whys of their design. Ran the marble through their structure.(Or not). They had 3 chances and they could make adjustments. Loved hearing the conversations as they discussed what they could do differently to make it work.
Team Valor won! We all won. An amazing project that made a STEM believer out of me!