This Week At STEAM: Week 6 Science Week Block 1 2017/18

6 down, 2 to go.  The block is almost over!

This week was Science Week.  The day started with the students completing their design challenge.  The challenge was slightly different today.  They were given brief instructions on their task – build a pom pom/ping pong ball launcher.  They were encouraged to use their critical thinking skills and utilize the resources available to them in the Centre.  This included using Safari or Chrome and The Google to search for ways to build the launcher.  The students used their creativity to  enhance any of the designs they found.  We tested the launchers to see how far the ping pong/pom poms went.

After lunch we read the book “Ada Twist, Scientist”.  We asked the students what image popped into their heads when they thought of “scientist”.  Lab coats, goggles, experiments, crazy hair, and test tubes were some of the thoughts.  We asked what they thought about a scientist wearing a leather jacket and fedora- the archaeologist Indiana Jones!  Or Dr. Alan Grant, a palaeontologist from Jurassic Park.  We also discussed someone who studied plants and animals that live in the water – a marine biologist.  This led to a discussion about how Canada is fortunate to have an abundance of clean drinking water.  We talked about how some other countries, such as those in Africa, do not have access to clean drinking water.  Following the conversation, we watched a video about Shoal Lake 40.  This is the community that Winnipeg draws its drinking water from and it has no clean drinking water of its own.

After the video, the students had to research and design a water filter.  As the students searched Google, I interrupted them to put a wrinkle in their work.  They had to randomly select a package that contained a country, instructions, and an amount of money.  The countries included the United States ($1000), Canada ($800), Ghana ($60), Cameroon ($50), Uganda($40), and Ethiopia ($20).  As well, the instructions varied from English to gobbledygook (Wind-dings font), as some of the developing countries also had a lower literacy rate than the US or Canada. When the students received their packages, chaos ensued as they realized their budgets.  The students went back to work, figuring out their costs.  In addition to the budgeting process, there was an interesting social aspect.  In some groups, the United States and Canada decided to empathize with the other countries and donate some funds, while in others they hoarded their money.  The countries that weren’t as well off requested money from other countries, and one group even resorted to attempting to steal.  This led to a rich conversations after about whether or not these types of things occur in real life.  The students were allowed to redo the activity, but this time they were all on equal footing.  All groups had the same quantity and types of material to work with.  When they were finished, the students compared their “budget” filtering with their “Equal material” filtering.

During the last portion of the day, the students learned about the Personalized Learning aspect of the program.  They were tasked with choosing something that sparked their curiosity or that they found interesting through the block and would like to continue.  They had to write a persuasive letter detailing why they would like to continue their chosen topic.  In the following week, they will have to go through the Design Process to start their Personalized Learning Journey.


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