STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics and is aimed at equipping students in these particular subjects and their skill-sets. These skills are essential for preparation students to live and eventually work in our rapidly changing world.
Our school library currently has a whole "Makerspace" filled with amazing technology and materials to engage students in creative design and thinking. However, many teachers also provide opportunities for these type of activities right in the classroom as well. The recent "Bucket Challenge" by some of the grade 5 students is an example of this.
For this challenge, students worked in teams of two and were asked to build a tower that would hold weight (pennies). A bucket (cup) needed to be suspended from the tower to hold this weight. They were given only the following supplies: 20 straws, 1 piece of string, one piece of masking tape (about 1 metre long) and one plastic cup with two holes punched in the sides. They were allowed to use scissors as needed. Students followed the steps of the Engineering Design Process for this challenge. It included drawing an initial design plan, testing, solving problems and then re-designing.
So what did the students learn from this task. We asked the students and they reflected on some important areas of growth.
- There will always be a problem even if you think there won't be so use all of the materials to make it better.
- Squares (cubes) aren't very stable.
- Tape is key. (Teacher: So why was it limited??) Too make it more challenging.
- You need to think and plan to make it stable.
- You have to work together. It takes more than one person.
- Your partner isn't always right!
- Don't try to do it all yourself.