I was one of the proud recipients of the $100 eleSTEMary/CAST mini-grants given away at the January eleSTEMary Workshop. I used the money to buy about 600 wooden building planks that I plan to use in a variety of ways across multiple content areas.
The first opportunity I had to use the planks was with my fourth and fifth graders (I work with K-5). I decided to focus on the Engineering Process for their first experience with the planks.
I told them our outside equipment is getting old and our students would really enjoy something new and improved for the playground. I needed their expertise in designing and creating a model of a new piece of equipment that could benefit kindergarten all the way through fifth grade students.
At first, the students worked in groups of two or three to draw a plan out on grid paper. Once they showed me their plans, I gave them the wooden planks and some plastic bears (people). When they finished their models, I asked them a few questions. For example, did they follow their plan completely or did they make adjustments? If they made adjustments, I asked them what were the adjustments and why did they make them. After all of the students were done, I had them go around and share what they made and how it could benefit all of the grade levels.
Some possible extensions might be:
1. Critique another group's creation and write the review as if you were a 5 year old.
2. Look at the different models and talk about how one idea might compliment another group's idea.
3. Work as a whole group to figure out how all of the models can fit together on one large grid in order to make a dream playground.
Who else is using wooden planks in their classroom? What other ideas do you have to use across the content areas?
Keeping it eleSTEMary,