Jan 25

Mythbusters: Exploding Pop Rocks and Does Bread land butter side down? Science myths tested

This past week in STEM, we tested some pretty fun myths. We had such a great time last week, so I wanted to continue mybusting one more week.

The girls have been asking to do experiments with candy (exploding candy) for months. I thought, this week, we should try it out. There is a myth that if you drink soda and eat pop rocks, that your stomach will explode. The girls were up for testing this myth out (in cups of course! ). They also couldn’t help but sample along the way. We did our control first and tested to see if the pop rocks would explode in water. We dropped them in and they fizzed, but nothing more. Next we tried them in soda. They did the same. Just fizz… although some of the girls thought they fizzed a bit more in the soda. Any brave girls that wanted to, were allowed to drink the remaining soda in the cup. No worries, all stomachs were still intact :). Overall this myth was tasty, but busted!

IMG_0675.JPG

IMG_0680.JPG

IMG_0679.JPG

IMG_0677.JPG

IMG_0682.JPG

IMG_0684.JPG

IMG_0685.JPG

IMG_0681.JPG

Our next myth: butter and bread. We wanted to test out the myth that bread always lands butter-side down. The girls were able to throw their piece off the second floor. The results were not what we predicted. Both times, 7 out of 12 slices landed butter-side up. We thought the weight of the butter would force it to go down. Another myth busted. Science is awesome!

Here’s a video of the bread going down!

IMG_0686-0.JPG

IMG_0698.JPG

IMG_0694.JPG

IMG_0697.JPG

Jan 14

Mythbusters- can you pass a current through play dough?

Winter session of stem club has begun! I cannot believe that we have 13 girls for this STEM club session! They were excited to begin! For our first session, I decided to try some fun science experiments that were inspired by the television show Mythbusters. It’s a great show, and I love the idea of trying experiments  out to see if they work.

I’ve been teaching third grade for 5 years, and each year I teach a unit on electricity.  I have heard that you can pass a current through play dough, but I have never tried it. I thought it would be a fun experiment for my STEM club girls to do! The best part was that I would be learning right along with them!

We started by watching a short clip on Mythbusters.

IMG_0620.JPG
br />
IMG_0612.JPG

Then we made play dough on a hot pad using salt, flour, oil, cream of tarter, and food coloring. The girls took turns pouring in the ingredients and mixing.

IMG_0615.JPG

<img src=”http://sites.harleyschool.org/afterschoolgirlsstem/files/2015/01/IMG_0614.jpg” alt=”IMG_0614.JPG” class=”alignnone size-full”

IMG_0616.JPG

IMG_0613.JPG
We then talked about circuits and got to the experimenting part. Could they get a bulb to light? A buzzer to work? A motor?

The girls loved finding out!

IMG_0635.JPG

IMG_0636.JPG

Dec 02

Minecraft building – STEM for girls using Brackitz and Legos. Build your own minecraft

For our last two meetings of the Harley School Girl’s STEM Club fall session, I decided to get back to the basics of our club: building.  These girls love to build with anything they can get their hands on! It is my hope that with more exposure to building, the girls will develop a passion for STEM.  For the past two weeks, the girls were presented with the task of building constructions to mimic what they would see in the popular game- Minecraft!  In Minecraft, the kids get to craft a world of their own!  There are animals,farms, cities, and everything in between.   You are only limited by your own imagination. If you have walked the halls of an elementary school, chances are you have heard about Minecraft.  Kids today can’t seem to get enough of it. They love building constructions out of 3D cubes.  Boys and girls are wearing shirts, playing with stuffed animals and toys, and playing the video game to their hearts content.  For me, I saw this as an opportunity to take the game past the computer! I thought we could build some of these constructions in real life. For the last two sessions of STEM club, the girls were presented with the idea of building Minecraft-like structures.  The building materials used would be Legos or Brackitz.  We talked about how the basis of Minecraft building is with a 3D cube.  The first thing we did was sit down to discuss the geometric shape of the cube.  It was easy to see a cube in legos, but Brackitz required a bit of work.  They had to construct their cubes first, and then build with it. This took them a couple of attempts and lots of great math thinking!  The girls were given a choice of what materials they would like to build with.

Attempting to make a cube with Brackitz

Attempting to make a cube with Brackitz

The next step was learning how to build Minecraft structures.  The girls explored blueprints and 3D structures.  We discussed how to crate a flat 2D shape following the blueprint and also how to construct 3D ones.  They had their choice to craft people, animals, or buildings, they could make them 2D or 3D, and also chose their materials to build with.  There was a lot to think about.

image

image[3]

the making of a pig!

claire

Claire decided to build a lighthouse

The girls decided what was their design-challenge would be  and got to work.  Emily and Claire chose Brackitz.  They loved the challenge of building with these and could not wait to start constructing the 3D cubes.   Elizabeth, Isabel, and Ali chose to follow the blueprints and create a 2D structure.  They decided to make a creeper and Steve.  Excellent choices.

image[5]

A 2D creeper!

image[7]

both girls busy at work!

 

Addy, Elizabeth, and Maddy decided to build a 3D animal.  2 foxes and a chicken would be added to our creations.

 

image[10]

Minecraft foxes are off to a great start!

  Finally, Dylan and Maya decided to tackle the hardest challenge of them all!  Designing a building out of legos.  The girls used pictures of structures already created in Minecraft for inspiration.  We looked at how many of the buildings had symmetry.  They selected an image to use for their inspiration. image[4]

This project took two sessions to complete. They were extremely focused on the task at hand. image[9] image[12]

image[13]

great team work!

  They are half way through and they are making good progress.   Clair and Emily decided to use construction paper to make the 3D cubes look more like cubes in Minecraft.  They are really starting to come together.

IMG_0422.JPG

Claire has made a lighthouse! Now to give it some color!

IMG_0423.JPG

The 2D shapes are coming along.  The girls had no trouble following the blueprint!

IMG_0437.JPG

IMG_0447.JPG The finished product

IMG_0420.JPG

Steve

The animals were so cute!  We wish we could take them home!

IMG_0430.JPG

Do these spikes look good on him?

IMG_0431.JPG

It is really starting to look like a chicken!

IMG_0448.JPG

a finished chicken

Once the feet were build, the rest of the chicken came together rather quickly.         IMG_0426.JPG

The buildings were not an easy design task.  The girls carefully selected their pieces and worked hard both afternoons.

IMG_0436.JPG IMG_0441-0.JPG IMG_0425.JPG

The girls with the brackets had a lot to think about.  Building, cutting, taping, and creating.  The girls were surprised how durable their structures were.  It was part of the design thinking.  If one part was weak, they had to think about how  to make it stronger.  There was a lot of trial and error, but in the end, they were proud of what they accomplished.  The lighthouse and the pig turned out great!

IMG_0438.JPG

the finished lighthouse

IMG_0445.JPG

side view of the pig

IMG_0422.JPG

almost there

IMG_0444-0.JPG

The finished pig!

IMG_0434.JPG

The girls were all very proud of their work.  We hope to share the finished product and also our process at our lower school assembly.  We host it once a week for the school and parents to see what we are doing at our school.  Great building girls!

Oct 23

Cornstarch and water speaker experiment in STEM

The girls were so excited to enter the classroom and see sound equipment. They instantly began to guess what we would be doing for the day- they had lots of predictions.

I told them how we would be continuing our sound/vibration study today by finding another way to observe it- with a speaker. Luckily for me, my husband knows a lot about sound equipment, and he volunteered to come in and help with the experiment. I also know when a topic is above my expertise and I need to recruit someone. Win/win! We took some time to mix the corn starch and water together.

IMG_0109-1.JPG

IMG_0110-1.JPG

IMG_0111-1.JPG
Next we talked about how sound waves look, the range of frequencies of sound, and decibels.

IMG_0112.JPG

IMG_0113.JPG
We showed them a cool app that showed them where their voice fell in the range of frequencies. They were eager to talk into the iPad and giggled as they raised and lowered their voices. The range of frequency is measured in hertz.

IMG_0116.JPG

IMG_0115.JPG

IMG_0114.JPG

IMG_0117.JPG
We then went to see what the cornstarch and water would do if we increased the hertz. We started low and slowly moved it higher. It was very cool to see it start to move.

IMG_0118.JPG

IMG_0121.JPG

IMG_0120.JPG

We then wanted to see if their voice could move the corn starch- we plugged a microphone into the speaker and let them try. No luck- their voices didn’t generate the right frequency or enough decibels.

IMG_0123-0.JPG

IMG_0124-0.JPG
Then, we decided to see what would happen if we played music. We started with this song:

We also let them select a couple of songs. “Timber” did not have a wide enough range of frequencies, but “turn down for what” wasn’t too bad.

We ended our time letting the girls build to music. A very cool afternoon!

IMG_0126.JPG

IMG_0127.JPG

IMG_0128.JPG


Oct 07

Exploring Electronics

imageimageimageimageToday in STEM club, we took a break from vibration to study the art of electronics.  I say art because inside of every piece of equipment we use, is truly a masterpiece.  I am in awe of how people learn to construct and put this kind of stuff together.  Since we have been working with motors, wires, and batteries, I decided to have the girls get their hands inside some broken electronics.  The girls were excited for this adventure.

The first thing we discussed was safety.  We agreed to be careful with sharp things and if they found something that look weird, they would ask a teacher before touching it.  They selected a piece and began the tedious process of opening the item with a screw driver.  These girls were driven and determined to get inside.  They could not wait. Some were easy to open and some required a team to get inside.  There were two items we could not even open.  The hairdryer and a funny and old projector were just more difficult than we could do.  Luckily the girls didn’t mind teaming up if their electronic was not opening. Many found motors in their electronics.  Some found lenses and lots of circuit boards.  They were giddy as each one got theirs open to peer inside.  They never stopped until the time was up.  I had to promise them we would continue this next time – and we will!  I was proud of them.  I love seeing girls get excited for these things.

 

 IMG_0078.JPG

IMG_0077.JPG

IMG_0076.JPG

IMG_0079.JPG

IMG_0081.JPG

IMG_0083.JPG

IMG_0085.JPG

IMG_0084.JPG

IMG_0087.JPG

IMG_0088.JPG

IMG_0086.JPG

Sep 30

Day 2 motoring robots! ( a robot made with a motor)

Today in STEM club the girls were given another task- designing their own robot. They could be animal robots, people robots, or other robots. They just needed to design one.

They were shown what one could look like and the given the guideline that their design had to:
1. Be balanced
2. Move
3. Have a plan
4. Be safe

The girls were so excited to see the materials and get to work. They selected the items they might use and began the gluing process. Design plans were changed and material ripped off and re-glued. Designing is not an easy process and these robots not only had to balance but move!

What I thought was most interesting was that some girls really thought about the motor- where it would go and how it would be used and some girls used the motor as an after thought.

The finished projects were amazing. This was my favorite day so far. The girls were so kind and helpful to each other. I was floored at what they created!

Bugs, horses, and even a massage chair were created.  Some robots like Ali’s moved in a circular motion, some like Elizabeths’ moved straight, and some like Madisons’ had room for the tail to flip in a circle.  What a fun afternoon!

IMG_0067.JPG

IMG_0063.JPG

IMG_0062.JPG

IMG_0060.JPG

IMG_0059.JPG

IMG_0054.JPG

IMG_0056.JPG

IMG_0053.JPG

IMG_0047.JPG

IMG_0046.JPG

IMG_0048.JPG

IMG_0049.JPG

IMG_0051.JPG

IMG_0052.JPG

IMG_0050.JPG

 

Sep 24

Good Vibrations: Girs STEM – ART Robots. Using a motor to see vibration

This is our official kickoff to girls STEM club for the 2014-2015 school year.  I had an amazing turnout this year and have maxed out with 10 girls in the club.  Hurray!  I still remember back in the day when we started the club with only 4 girls. I am thrilled to see more girls becoming interested in science, technology, engineering, and math! I hope this love continues throughout their lives.

Today we started the lesson with a science experiment. I sat them in a circle and we all looked at these material.
image
I took some rice and placed it on top of the bowl with plastic wrap on top. They made predictions of what would happen to the rice if I banged the drum with a spoon. Most thought it would move because of air from the drum. Some even thought it was the vibration of the drum that would make the rice move. Sure enough, it worked. The vibration from the drum caused the rice to move. We then tried it with a bucket, made predictions, and watched if the rice would move. This time the predictions were split. Half thought the vibration would make the rice move and the other half thought the rice would stay put because the bucket would not produce enough vibration. When I banged the bucket. The rice did not move! Awesome job, girls! We are observing vibration.

Our design task for the 2nd part of this class was to design something that could show the movement of vibration. What better way then through art! The girls were given different cups or containers. They were given pencils, colored pencils, crayons and markers. Then they were given something that would actually vibrate – a motor. They have to design a “vibration bot” to show the movement of the vibration.
image
The girls were thrilled with this task and could not wait to get their hands on the materials and motors. They instantly went to work testing the containers and learning how importAnt it is to make sure the markers were even. They hand to make sure the vibration bot they created could stand on its own. They also figured out that the motor had to be placed in a way so that the end piece could spin around.
image

They tried their plan, and if they had time, they tried again with a new idea. Some attempts failed and some were very successful. They also learned that the wires that are attached to the motors were very fragile.
image
image
image
image
Next week we will continue to study vibration!

Mar 05

The making of a Lego stop motion movie

Due to popularity of the Lego Movie, the girls were presented with the idea of making their own movie – they were thrilled with this task!

For our movie, we used the Lego Movie App. It is Lego’s free stop motion movie app and who doesn’t love free!?! The girls watched a video on how to make a movie, and we couldn’t resist watching a few lego movies on YouTube. They were awesome, and we instantly became inspired!

We decided to vote on a theme for our movie. All kinds of ideas were tossed out- from a lego movie about Ben Franklin to how Emmet and Wild Style meet. We voted and decided a birthday party for Emmet would be fun. Somehow it turned into a lego beach birthday party (even better).
imageimageimage
Day 1 was spent building the set. The girls were so engaged. They had so many ideas, yet through it all, some good team work was happening. Sometimes they would shout out an idea for what the birthday party needed and then someone would volunteer to make it. It was impressive to watch their compromising and negotiating.

Day 2 was spent making finishing touches to the set and then making the movie. I thought I would have to help more with the technology piece, but it was so easy for them. They naturally made an order for taking turns taking the pictures and they had no trouble navigating the app.
image

image
They did great for their first time! Madison was Wild Style, Clair was the small car, Ali was the larger car, Anika was Emmet, and Addy was the horse. It was a fun afternoon! Here is the movie!

Feb 13

Building centers – observing play

Today the girls participated in building centers. Their task was to work in pairs at one center. Each center had a different option for building. Before we began, I showed them the options of toys for building. What they saw was a bunch of fun stuff they couldn’t wait to get there hands on. What they did not realize was I was very interested in their interactions with the toys. How did they build? Did they play? I had two toy choices available that were open- ended play, while the other two were direction-following, more scripted toys.

I was excited to see what they would do.

First they were allowed to chose what they wanted to build. The scripted Lego kits were snatched up first (after all- this is Lego Club for girls!) and the tinker toys were also picked. No one selected the Paolo blocks- I will have to get these girls to try them later. They are honestly really cool!

The girls worked in pairs and the first chunk of time was quiet. (That is rare for girls club). Then, I was starting to observe a lot in their interactions.

Addy and Ali worked together on a Tangled tower. Ali followed the directions to a “T” and I was impressed with what was able to get done in such a small amount of time. Addy, who is four, just played.
image
Claire and Elizabeth were working on the Lego Friends Brickmaster story set. They honestly could care less about the story and just wanted to build. They skipped right into the directions part of the book. Once one chapter’s parts were assembled, they quickly took it down (no playing) in order to try out the next chapter’s buildings. I was surprised by this, as I would have thought the girls would play with the items they made and interact with them. I think lego was hoping for that too, but for these girls… They just wanted to build.
image
Madison and Anika were building with the Tinker Toys and their imaginations went to work. Madison started to create a giant creature and Anika was building a horse stable. What was interesting about them was that in about 10 minutes time they were using what they had build separately, to play together. They had a very detailed story with a captured princess. Every time something was needed they dove into the pile to make it, all while playing.
These open ended toys sure did provoke more imagination and creativity.
image
I’m not saying the open-ended toys are better. I think the ones with directions promote great spacial skills and abilities. Those toys are hard work and take determination. The open-ended toys seem to use a completely different side of the brain. These girls were immersed in their play all while building. In the end, both types are all about learning physics, scale, loading constraints, structure, and much more. These girls are building more than just a creation every time they are building.

The centers were fun. The girls wanted to stay where they were the entire time and not switch. I would like to have them switch another time to try out other the toys. I am interested to see if it changes their interactions with bulding.

Feb 10

How much weight can a boat hold? Stem for girls activity

The weeks before February break are crazy for teachers. So time for blogging is not much. Inside of writing, I will show you the improvements made by the girls with pictures. Happy viewing. These girls did awesome this time. The boats could float, hold weight and were relatively water proof. Great job, girls!imageimageimageimageimage

image

imageimageimageimage

Page 1 of 3123