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november stem challenges
STEM activities in November
5 Nov, 2016. 1 Comment. A Day In First Grade, First Grade, Holidays, Kindergarten. Posted By: Kristen Smith

november STEM challenges for kindergarteners and first graders

I love that STEM education is getting so much attention these days. Incorporating STEM activities in your classroom helps your students develop problem solving skills, encourages collaboration and teamwork, and fosters creativity. More so, it allows students to think like scientists, engineers, mathematicians, artists, and take ownership of their learning.

As educators we are tasked with preparing the next generation for jobs that may not even be created yet. Students need to be able to work collaboratively with their peers and be able to problem solve. STEM offers students the opportunity to work on these skills. STEM activities also provides students with open-ended activities where they can go through the process of defining a problem, brainstorming a possible solution, planning, creating, and improving on their plan. This process helps prepare our students for their futures in fun and innovative ways.

Each month, I present my students with a new STEM challenge. Then weekly my students dig deeper into the concept through a variety of challenges and activities that allow them to build schema, think deeper about the challenge, and solve different problems.

This month, my students are exploring what makes objects sink and what makes objects float. We began a series of investigations to help them understand the concepts of buoyancy and density. This month’s STEM activities culminate with students creating their own version of the Mayflower. They will try to create a boat that can successfully hold 102 pony beads (one bead for each passenger that traveled on the Mayflower).

To begin, I read my students the wordless book, “Float.”

Books to go along with STEM activities on whether items sink or float

We then discussed what the word “float” meant. My students drew a picture on their whiteboards to define the word and explained the term to their partners. Then, I introduced a simple sink and float center.

Kindergarten students participate in STEM activities exploring the concept of whether items sink or float

At this center, I used our magnetic table white board to hold our essential question and directions. My students then got to work exploring the objects.

They drew their items on a recording sheet, made predictions on whether they thought their items would sink or float, tested their prediction, and then recorded their findings.

Kindergarten students participate in STEM activities exploring the concept of whether items sink or float

This produced many great observations and theories.  To help my students understand and test their theories, each day I added a few different items so that they could further deepen their understanding.

Kindergarten students participate in STEM activities exploring the concept of whether items sink or float Kindergarten students participate in STEM activities exploring the concept of whether items sink or float

Our next challenge included making a boat out of tin foil that could hold marbles.

Kindergarten students participate in STEM activities exploring the concept of whether items sink or float

This was a favorite activity this week. Each day my young learners came up with better designs that held more and more marbles. Thus far my students have created a boat that could hold 55 marbles!

Kindergarten students participate in STEM activities exploring the concept of whether items sink or float STEM challenge: can you create a boat out of tinfoil that can hold marbles?

In order to pass the “floating” test, my students blew on their boats to see if they skimmed across the surface of the water. If they did, they knew that the boat in fact was floating and happily counted their marbles. (Please note the math standards connection! 1-1 correspondence, counting objects, writing down numbers, and comparing numbers!!)

STEM challenge: can you create a boat out of tinfoil that can hold marbles?

STEM challenge: can you create a boat out of tinfoil that can hold marbles?

Next week my students will try to make boats out of Legos and then continue our series of challenges for the month.

STEM truly is a wonderful addition to our classroom. If you are looking for easy to implement activities, written out lesson plans, book suggestions, posters, and recording pages, I sell all of my STEM packets in my TpT store. You can buy each set separately or purchase the bundle.

This month’s pack is available for only $4.00 here:  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STEM-throughout-the-year-Unit-4-Sink-and-Float-2587795

The bundle is available here:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STEM-throughout-the-year-The-Bundle-preschool-kindergarten-and-first-grade-2591407

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One Comment
  1. Another great idea! I can’t wait to do this with kids. I really appreciate how you integrate ideas and make kids think!

1 Comment

  • Another great idea! I can’t wait to do this with kids. I really appreciate how you integrate ideas and make kids think!

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