Hello friends! The last two weeks my friend and I have been running a STEM camp for 5-10 year olds at my school. It has been an absolute blast. As many of you know, I love STEM and have been incorporating it into my kindergarten classroom for the last three years. I have seen STEM activities provide students with engaging and meaningful tasks, encourage classroom connections and friendships, challenge students in ways that they have not been previously challenged, help students think outside the box, and develop a love within our students for science, technology, engineering, (art), and math. I am a HUGE supporter of STEM activities and this camp has further solidified those beliefs. Our campers said that their weeks at STEM camp were, “the best weeks of their lives!” and that “they wish STEM camp went on all summer.” I wanted to share with you some of the activities that we did so that you can bring these lessons to your students as well!
During the first week of camp, we focused mainly on the concepts of force and motion, robotics, and coding. We separated our group of 18 students into 4 groups and had them work their way through 4 rotations each day. During these rotations, two of them had a teacher to support the task and to help the students and the other two were independent stations.
For these activities we used the following items and materials (affiliate links):
Our Sphero® station was a favorite station this week. Throughout the week students completed a variety of challenges with him. They first learned how to drive him by completing a series of missions that I wrote. The next day, they were tasked with creating a ramp out of cardboard for Sphero® to drive up and down.
During this activity, students learned first hand how momentum, force, and friction played into their creations. This challenge allowed students to problem solve and to use trial and error to fix their structures. We heard a lot of, “Sphero® can’t get up the ramp. Maybe we should try to get more momentum by backing up!” “I think we should add the nubby cover so that Sphero® can get more traction!”
The next day, students began creating obstacle courses using our ramps and tunnels.
First they came up with a plan.
Then they executed it.
Other stations this week included:
Osmo Jam Station:
We ended this week having a water day where students explored force and motion on the playground using water guns and gutters.
We had many children sign up for both our first and second week of camp so week two we built off of the lessons we had accomplished during the first week and extended them even farther. During this week we had 25 students with 10 of those students being over the age of 8. This week we focused mainly on robotics (especially with our over 8 group), circuits, and coding. We used the Mindstorm Lego Education kits with our older students and they LOVED building and coding their robot creations. By the end of the week each team had successfully built a robot, created a maze for them, and coded their way through the maze they created successfully.
We were lucky enough to borrow three of these kits from a school in our area. (Note: don’t be afraid to ask for help/supplies when doing things like this!) I will say this, our 8-10 year olds loved using these kits and were challenged in more ways than one by using them. (These provided a great opportunity for our students to persevere when things did not turn out as planned and allowed students to take on leadership roles in engineering, coding, and building. It was a great way for these students to lead their peers in these areas!)
This week, our Sphero® challenge was to build a car out of K’nex or Tegu blocks. In teams, students worked together to create a car that could pull the most amount of weight.
This challenge was a HUGE hit with all of the campers. They loved adding more weight to their car and then adding up (or counting) how much weight their cars were pulling.
Each day the teams would modify their cars in an attempt to pull even more weight.
By the end of the week, cars were pulling over 453 grams! (Students were amazed that their cars were pulling a pound!)
Another huge hit this week was assembling Snap Circuits. Even our 5-7 year olds loved this task. (The 5 and 6 year olds needed a bit of help to complete the tasks but they were thrilled when their circuits worked!)
They also enjoyed building ramps using the Haba marble run kit.
We ended our week with presentations from our Mindstorm groups (to show our younger students all the work they accomplished throughout the week), a giant water balloon fight, a few games of capture the flag on the playground, and popsicles.
It truly was a blast!!!