Marbles and Boats

Exploring how many marbles it takes to sink the boats

   
 

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Ball Run

We are typically not big fans of mass produced catalog materials but…this is awesome! It is engaging, open ended, well designed, durable and a just right challenge for 5 year olds! 

   
    
 

The Sliderator

As a culmination to our machines and contraptions project the PreK class created their own contraption…The Sliderator. The Sliderator is an elaborate marble run featuring  a crank, inclined planes, tubes,  hand painted blinking signs, rules for use, a ladder, a funnel, a lifeguard chair (to retrieve marbles that have escaped), and a musical tree! We shared our Sliderator and documentation with the other classes and parents during our Holiday Program. 

   
 

Rain Gutter Races

A vinyl rain gutter capped and sealed on the ends was so much fun during Preschool Science Camp! Creating boats and using our own wind force to move them was a just right challenge for the 4-5 year olds!  This could definitely be expanded into a project.

I used the same activity at a K-2 science camp but added more boat research and exploration of buoyancy and force. We also experimented more with the construction of the boats – size and shape of the boats (pool noodle), sails (parchment paper) and masts (skewers). 

Measuring the length of our “route,” using stopwatches and counting how many breaths it takes incorporates math standards. 

     

Child Directed Learning

The capturing of an insect created opportunities for collaboration, problem solving, experimentation, engineering, squealing, giggling, negotiating, ethics debate,  conflict resolution…The beauty of a child centered/emerging curriculum!  

      

Conversations about a bug capture…

“Maybe he is a girl. If he lays eggs we will know he is a girl.

If he escapes we can step on him or stick him to the tape. No, that’s hurting God’s creatures- you’re bad! She isn’t bad, she just doesn’t want to get bit or pooped on! They don’t hurt you so don’t hurt it! 

We should put tape on all the connections so they don’t come apart. The chimney is too tall to stand up by itself. I’ll fix it.

Does he like the light? We are trying to see if he is afraid of the light. Turn on the flashlight and see if he runs away from it. 

We can’t keep him forever, he doesn’t have food and water. Yea but if we put him in a jar we can study him and see if we notice something new.”

STEM Quantifying

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STEM Quantifying
“Level 1”
By asking a child to “show me 5 fingers using TWO hands” instead of just one, a typically mindless activity becomes higher level STEM thinking.

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“Level 2”
For an added challenge and a dose of collaboration children can be challenged to “work with a partner to make 5”- each partner uses one hand!

“Level 3”
For a real challenge, children work with a partner to make larger quantities such as 12 using as many hands as it takes. This is not only a mathematical challenge but a communication challenge as well!