Rainbow STEM Challenge

Rainbow STEM Challenge

Have you ever had a Pinterest fail? I know I have!​​

Sometimes a project seems like unicorns and rainbows in theory and then you try doing it in your own classroom and everything turns into chaos.

Kids are off task…

The project flops…​​​​

​​That’s why I love having my go-to resources like The Plato Pack where I *KNOW* the lessons will always be a success.

It’s such a huge time saver!​
Speaking of Pinterest WINS, I wanted to pass along this simple STEM project so you can print it out and add it to your lesson plans…

Getting Ready

Prepping the project was really as simple as gathering together supplies for each group:

  • 15 pipe cleaners (including one of each color in the rainbow if possible)
  • A small container of playdough
  • Scissors
  • One record sheet for each child

And then, for testing later, I grabbed a small plastic cup filled with 50 pennies.

Rainbow STEM Challenge

Each group had the same goal: building the strongest rainbow.

To successfully complete the challenge, however, I set out some extra rules. The rainbows had to:

  • Stand on their own
  • Use 15 or fewer pipe cleaners each
  • Not use any other material like tape or staples to bind the pipe cleaners together.
  • Stand at least 4 inches (10 cm) tall

Since a big piece of STEM learning is design, teamwork and problem solving, I had students first work with their groups to create a plan on their record sheet.

Then they set out to actually build their rainbow!

After all of the groups had finished creating, it was time to test the strength of the arcs.

Working on one rainbow at a time, we placed the plastic cup at the center of the arc and slowly added one coin to the cup at a time until the arc collapsed.

The kids were so excited to see what design was the strongest!

To stretch students’ thinking, we talked about what worked well and what needed to be tweaked next time.

Then kids set off to adjust their designs before we tested them again to see if there was any improvement.

Extension Activity

A simple way to build students’ creativity is having them use leftover pipe cleaners to make their own design: trees, animals… anything!

I’m including an extension record sheet in the download (below) for you too.

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The Place of Technology in Education

The Place of Technology in Education

by guest

My experience has thought me that there are numerous reasons why technology is a key aspect of the learning process in the 21st Century – known as the Information age. I believe we can list the topics related to technology importance in education as it follows:

1. For students: Students and children love to be interactive and technology provides that. Learning with technology has now become part of students lifestyles.

The pictures are the author’s own – Attribution CC-BY

2. For teachers: technology is known to be a requirement for the learning environment and to provide flexible learning environments. We not only use it with students but to train ourselves and help the teacher community.

The pictures are the author’s own – Attribution CC-BY

3. Children are digital natives! They know technology better than most adults. Dealing with technology in the classroom not only helps them learn better but also contribute to their multitasking skills.

4. Students can learn at their own pace: With the integration of technology into education, children have the ability and possibility to slow down, return to the lessons, watch it again, and come back to concepts they learned (in case of asynchronous learning). If synchronous sometimes they can reach out to teachers after the lesson or google information that they might still not understand as well.

The pictures are the author’s own – Attribution CC-BY

5. The limitation that existed before the internet is gone. Accessing information outside of books offer students many ways of learning a concept. Teachers can find creative ways to develop and teach their students the learning environment in lessons.

The pictures are the author’s own – Attribution CC-BY

7. Technology improves relationships between teachers and students: When teachers effectively integrate technology into their subject areas, teachers become consultants, mentors, and coaches. Students can also collaborate with their classmates through technological applications. technology builds bridges.

The pictures are the author’s own – Attribution CC-BY
The pictures are the author’s own – Attribution CC-BY

8. Technology evaluation: evaluating students’ performance can be done instantly with technology. Tools such as Google and Microsoft forms, Mentimeter, Padlet, and many other resources are easy and practical ways to do online surveys and tests. They also help to build more interactive sessions.

The pictures are the author’s own – Attribution CC-BY

See some examples of work created for interactive sections with my students (material in Turkish):

From my perspective, the reality of our present is that adults want to live yesterday, youth today, and children in the future. The concept of “digital native” is used for primary school students with Z generation because they are grown in a digital environment.

However, we also need to consider different philosophies cultures and habits of each generation, society, economic privileges, governmental support, among others. Individuals who are not born in such a “technology world” but use technological tools and equipment are called “digital immigrants”.

According to Arabaci and Polat (2013) “Nowadays, students are digital natives, and the teachers are digital immigrants. Class is one of the common places of the digital immigrants and digital natives. Therefore, it has become necessary to reconsider classroom management in this new century. As the leader of the class teachers have to be aware of the changing characteristics of students in the classroom, otherwise this will bring many conflicts“.

For effective classroom management, today’s teacher needs to be “digitally wise”, acquire digital technology literacy, have the skills to meet the students and education process needs, the expectations of students, and constantly develop themselves.

In classroom management, our digital native students are very talented and willing to use and implement collaborative web 2 tools.

With the collaborative studies and mini-evaluations we apply with our students in the lessons, they have the opportunity to both practice and reinforce what they have learned. As a conscious technology user, digital natives also guide digital immigrants in the classroom about the use and development of applications.

Check out the presentation created by me and used during my lectures (material in Turkish):

The pictures are the author’s own – Attribution CC-BY

If you would like to continue reading about the role of technology in education, check out the following resources:

Author: Nurhan Boyacıoğlu

Nurhan Boyacıoğlu has been a primary school teacher for 27 years. He explores the importance of using technology in his classrooms for both his students’ development and his professional development and gets training on how to use it with STEM applications.

Featured Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash – See License

Tags: digital education, Digital Literacy, primary education, techonology

Posted in Socio-scientific issues, Teaching | Leave a response
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