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STEM!
17 Jun, 2017. 9 Comments. A Day In First Grade, STEM. Posted By: Kristen Smith

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!

STEM activities for young learners

Week 1

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.

STEM challenges for young learners

During a summer STEM camp students created ramps out of a cardboard, tape, and foam blocks to drive Sphero through. During a summer STEM camp students created ramps out of a cardboard, tape, and foam blocks to drive Sphero through. During a summer STEM camp students created ramps out of a cardboard, tape, and foam blocks to drive Sphero through.

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.

Sphero Challenge: Can you create an obstacle course for your friend to drive Sphero through?

First they came up with a plan.

Sphero Challenge: Can you create an obstacle course for your friend to drive Sphero through?

Then they executed it.

Sphero Challenge: Can you create an obstacle course for your friend to drive Sphero through?

Other stations this week included:

STEM Challenge: Can you code the "Code and Go" mouse through a maze successfully? STEM Challenge: Can you code the "Code and Go" mouse through a maze successfully?

Hexbug Challenge:

STEM Challenge: Can you create a maze that a Hexbug can successfully navigate? STEM Challenge: Can you create a maze that a Hexbug can successfully navigate?

STEM Challenge: Can you create a maze that a Hexbug can successfully navigate?

Osmo Jam Station:

Osmo Jam in a kindergarten classroom

We ended this week having a water day where students explored force and motion on the playground using water guns and gutters.

Students explore force and motion on the playground during a summer STEM camp. Students explore force and motion on the playground during a summer STEM camp.
A Day In First Grade-8

Week 2

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!)

STEM CAMP: 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.

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.

STEM challenge: Can you build a car for Sphero to drive that can pull the most amount of weight?

STEM challenge: Can you build a car for Sphero to drive that can 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.

STEM challenge: Can you build a car for Sphero to drive that can pull the most amount of weight?

Each day the teams would modify their cars in an attempt to pull even more weight.

STEM challenge: Can you build a car for Sphero to drive that can pull the most amount of weight?

By the end of the week, cars were pulling over 453 grams! (Students were amazed that their cars were pulling a pound!)

STEM challenge: Can you build a car for Sphero to drive that can pull the most amount of weight?

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!)

Students in a STEM camp work on building snap circuits.

They also enjoyed building ramps using the Haba marble run kit.

Students in a STEM camp work on building marble runs while exploring force and motion. Students in a STEM camp work on building marble runs while exploring force and motion.

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.

Students built a Mindstorm Lego robot and coded them through mazes they built out of hollow blocks. Students built a Mindstorm Lego robot and coded them through mazes they built out of hollow blocks.

Summer fun during a STEM camp

It truly was a blast!!!

 

 

 

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9 Comments
  1. misty gardner -

    Hi,
    I do not live in your city . I would love to start a STEMS camp if only for a week. Can you guide me in the right direction. Is there anything that would help me start a camp before the summer is over. Out schools don’t get out until Tuesday.
    Thanks,
    Misty GArdner

    • Hi Misty- I would love to help. Join our “Closed” Facebook group and we can chat all about it! We talk about things like this often! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1771065536510915

      • Kristen, I am SOOOOO glad to hear that you will be making a unit for these amazing activities that you posted. I will be teaching a STEM camp at the end of July and will be purchasing your unit for this. Do you know when you might have it available? Thanks so much. :)

  2. Hi there!

    My name is Oliver Miller, and I teach third grade in Memphis. I received a grant last year and used it to buy almost exactly the same items you have in your Makerspace! This year, I rolled out a very basic Makerspace in which students basically just played with the different tools. I would love to either send you some questions or chat with you briefly about your Makerspace and the various things you clearly do to make it even more educationally rich for the kids.

    Any time/ advice you could provide would be amazing, as you are clearly years ahead of me with these tools! I’m available any day but Wednesday pretty much all day and am more than happy to either send some questions or just chat about it, depending on which you prefer. Also happy to throw the questions in the comments here if you want others to see you answers as well!

    Best,
    Oliver Miller

  3. This looks like such a fun STEM camp! I would love to be able to get some of these activities, especially the Sphero-related ones! Are they or will they be available in your TPT shop?

    • Hi Carol! Thank you! I am putting these together in a unit that will be available in my TpT store! It should be posted soon!

  4. Lisa -

    I am a full time STEM teacher for 600 students, and love your camp ideas! Would you consider sharing your files with directions for each station?

    • Lisa– Thank you! I will be selling a STEM task card set soon!

9 Comments

  • misty gardner -

    Hi,
    I do not live in your city . I would love to start a STEMS camp if only for a week. Can you guide me in the right direction. Is there anything that would help me start a camp before the summer is over. Out schools don’t get out until Tuesday.
    Thanks,
    Misty GArdner

    • Hi Misty- I would love to help. Join our “Closed” Facebook group and we can chat all about it! We talk about things like this often! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1771065536510915

      • Kristen, I am SOOOOO glad to hear that you will be making a unit for these amazing activities that you posted. I will be teaching a STEM camp at the end of July and will be purchasing your unit for this. Do you know when you might have it available? Thanks so much. :)

  • Hi there!

    My name is Oliver Miller, and I teach third grade in Memphis. I received a grant last year and used it to buy almost exactly the same items you have in your Makerspace! This year, I rolled out a very basic Makerspace in which students basically just played with the different tools. I would love to either send you some questions or chat with you briefly about your Makerspace and the various things you clearly do to make it even more educationally rich for the kids.

    Any time/ advice you could provide would be amazing, as you are clearly years ahead of me with these tools! I’m available any day but Wednesday pretty much all day and am more than happy to either send some questions or just chat about it, depending on which you prefer. Also happy to throw the questions in the comments here if you want others to see you answers as well!

    Best,
    Oliver Miller

  • This looks like such a fun STEM camp! I would love to be able to get some of these activities, especially the Sphero-related ones! Are they or will they be available in your TPT shop?

    • Hi Carol! Thank you! I am putting these together in a unit that will be available in my TpT store! It should be posted soon!

  • Lisa -

    I am a full time STEM teacher for 600 students, and love your camp ideas! Would you consider sharing your files with directions for each station?

    • Lisa– Thank you! I will be selling a STEM task card set soon!

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