Block 3: This Week At STEAM: Week 4 – Science Week

The day started off with the students completing their Instant Challenge.  In this challenge, the students were tasked to be as efficient as possible with their materials.  They had to create a device that would knock over 20 cups.  They were allowed to use pipe cleaners, straws, elastic bands, paper, and rulers.  The cups placed in a staggered pattern, half right side up and half upside down.  They were located behind a line which no part of the student’s body was allowed to cross while attempting to knock the cups down.  The students also received a score based on how many materials used.  The fewer the materials used, the more points they received!  We broke the Design Thinking Process into detail for the activity.  During the Identify step, the students had to come up with three potential challenges to the activity.  In the Imagine Step, the students had to come up with three solutions to their challenges.  During the Plan step, the students had to list all the materials used and sketch their design.  In the Design step, the students had to come up with instructions on how to create their device.

After we read a book called “Ada Twist, Scientist” and had a discussion speaking to what image popped into mind when you thought of the word “scientist”.  As well, we talked about what it meant to be a scientist and how they posed question after question.  To introduce the afternoon activity, we watched a video on Freedom Road 40 in Shoal Lake.  This video focused on the fact that the community does not have clean drinking water, yet is Winnipeg’s water source.  The students were then told to research how to build a water filter and were provided a list of materials that included coarse and fine gravel, coarse and fine sand, activated charcoal, cheesecloth, cotton balls, elastic bands, and plastic water bottles.  After forming groups and working towards a final design, the groups were interrupted by a blaring siren.  They were told they now had to randomly select different countries.  The countries included Canada, Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon, and Ethiopia.  Each of these countries had a budget, ranging from $800 down to $20.  Each of the materials also had a cost.  The students then had to rework their plan based on their budget.  There was a lot of groans and “that’s not fair” comments once the budget packages were opened.  Some of the groups figured out they could use fractions to reduce the cost of the materials, for example a full cup of fine sand cost $20.  A quarter cup only cost $5. Some groups with smaller budgets were able to produce effective filters.  There was also interesting interactions between countries.  Some groups who chose Canada, which had an $800 budget, decided to donate money to the less fortunate countries.  Some countries with smaller budgets tried to get more money by borrowing or even stealing.  After the activity, we had a discussion if this happened in the real world.  The students then compared their filtered water.  Next, the students were provided full amounts of each material and had to make the best filter they could.  Each group was on equal footing.  The students then compared their second filtering to their first and commented why it was better or worse.

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