This Week At STEAM – Engineering Week Block 2 2017/18

Levers and Pulleys and Wedges, oh my!  This week put all of the student’s STEAM skills to the test. The students also had their resolve tested, and had to show grit and resilience by not giving up.

The day started with one of the toughest Instant Challenges yet!  The students had to design a structure that was built sideways from the wall.  It was only allowed to attach to the wall in a 30cm by 30cm square that was 90cm from the ground.  The structure had to be self-supporting and could not be held up by a team member or object such as a chair.  The materials available were very limited –  4 pipe cleaners, 2 cups, 2 sheets of chart paper, 60cm of string, a piece of printer paper, and 10 mailing labels.  There was an example of a cantilever posted in Seesaw, and we discussed a suspension bridge before beginning.  The students were also encouraged to build the structure first, then attach it to the wall as the mailing labels would lose their stickiness fast.  They also had a very strict time limit.
Some groups were able to complete the task, but some group’s design did not go the way they had planned.  The structures were also scored on three factors: the length of the structure, if it touched the floor or not, and how well the teams worked together.  We discussed what the groups thought they did well, what they could change, and if they used any strategies to build their structures.  Again, we discussed using Google as a possible resource.

After the challenge, we read a book called “Rosie Revere, Engineer”.  The book was about a young girl who dreamed of becoming an engineer.  She would make gadgets and gizmos from anything she could find. Dissuaded by what she thought was her uncle laughing at a creation, she almost gave up on engineering until she met her great-aunt Rose.  She rekindled her love of tinkering and continued her engineering dream.  She learned the mantra of STEAM – the only time that you truly fail is if you quit.

Following the book, we learned about the 6 simple machines – levers, pulleys, wheel and axels, wedges, screws, and inclined planes.  We watched three videos:  OK GO’s This Too Shall Pass, Bob Partington’s Rube Slowberg, and Audri’s Monster Trap. The videos showcased three different Rube Goldberg Machines.  Rube Goldberg machines are complex machines that solve a simple task, such as trapping a monster, much like the old Mousetrap game.  While watching the videos, we tried to pick out the different simple machines used.  The students were then given their task – create a Rube Goldberg machine!  They had access to any material they wanted in the room to create the machine.  Each group member had a role: the Initiator who started the machine, the End who was in charge of activating the simple task, and the Middles who connected the Initiator to the End.  Each group member had to select a different simple machine and chain reaction.  They also had to complete the Design Process Graphic Organizer and make note of their changes.  Most groups got frustrated, some machines worked and some didn’t, but no one quit.


Only one more week to go!


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