Biology in 5/6

In biology our class recently learnt how living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment. The students were given the task to scan the QR codes provided in the RIC Publications Science: A STEM Approach Resource*

I adapted this lesson slightly by placing the QR codes onto a Y-chart for the students to research within their groups. Once the students worked together to compare and highlight the similarities and differences between three plants or animals  (for example the Australian desert tree frog, Rainforest tree frog, and Alaskan tree frog) they then participated in a gallery walk to view each group work, to describe further similarities/differences in their findings.

Finally, students participated in a whole-class discussion regarding the definition of both structural features of adaptation and behavioral features of adaptation.

As a class, we classified behavioural and structural adaptations and cemented an understanding of each.

*alternatively, you could allow students to research images of plants & animals you would like the students to learn more about or create your own QR codes for these by clicking here.

5/6 Geomtricity STEM Art Project – Angles & Line Focus

The 5/6 class have become city engineers! They were challenged to design a new city with street names and locations of buildings, parks, and landscaping requirements. To get approval from the city leaders their proposal had to be creative, colourful, and show accurately drawn lines and angles.

The students were required to include at least 6 parallel streets, streets that intersected to form an obtuse angle, a church on an acute angle, a shopping center on a right-angle corner, a police and fire department across from each other on a parallel street, an ice cream shop and library across from each other at an intersection and at least 12 residential houses for people to live in.

Not only did this fun project engage students whole-heartedly, it helped them further hone in on developing STEM skills in problem-solving, critical and creative thinking.

Furthermore, the open-ended nature of this task allows for various opportunities for creative assessment and differentiation -making this a task I plan to use again!

HASS Inquiry & Biological Sciences

Our class has been learning about endangered animals and the global issues that are threatening the survival of these species.

As critical and creative problem solvers we participated in a HASS inquiry research project (linked to our understandings of adaptations in biological science & creating non-fictional texts in literacy) to identify the threats impacting the Polar Bear, Spider Monkey, Sloth, Black Rhino and Amur Tiger.

Once the threats impacting these animals were identified we were able to participate in the engineering process to design and build an invention to save the endangered species.

For example, in order to support the devasting impact of global warming threatening our Polar Bears environment, our students invented an underwater air-conditioner – ‘The Ice Breaker 3000,’ that would keep the ice caps from melting, how creative is that!

Other brilliant ideas included sanctuaries that were protected by new laws and patrolled by rangers to protect our Sloths and Spider-monkeys from poachers and illegal logging threatening their environments.

Our class favourite, however, was an irrigation system called, ‘The Soil Soaker,’ designed to support the devastating threat of deforestation impacting the Amur Tigers. This irrigation system was designed to rejuvenate the soil and plant trees in areas requiring rehabilitation.



More Money & Math!

In 5/6 we love learning about money, especially because of all the connections we can make using real-life scenarios to engage our students with our curriculum.

Through the process of creating these canteen lunch order forms, we not only learned important terminology related to money, but we also practiced decimal addition to calculating our total and decimal subtraction to work out our change from the tendered amount.

We have further integrated our learning by assuring all our craft and STEM project supplies have a price tag to support further development of financial literacy.

For further information on how to set your STEM bin up, click here!

Art in Mathematics – Angles

Art & Mathematics may at first appear to be very different things.
Often, our 5/6 students prefer one over the other.

To help our students find the Mathematics in Art and the Art in Mathematics they were given the task of creating a piece of artwork that included a triangle, parallel lines, obtuse and acute angles.
In the future, I look forward to doing this activity again and then having students calculate the area of their triangles & other shapes.

This can be differentiated in so many ways and double up as a diagnostic task in many measurement & geometry concepts!


Multiples & Factors STEAM Activity

Teaching math through art has been an excellent strategy to engage students in what can initially appear to be ‘dry’ concepts. The connection between the two is often overlooked when teaching math, but it has been reported it improves retention of key concepts.

Thus, our students have enjoyed challenging their inner ‘artist’ to complete two highly creative and hands-on STEAM activities that have challenged and engaged the learners in understanding the multiples and factors of numbers.

After students understood the underlying relationship between multiples and skip-counting, they were invited to create their own artistic versions of pattern snakes using various numbers aimed at challenging students to eventually identify patterns in the multiples of decimal numbers.

The students armed with their knowledge of contrast colours, a range of oil pastels and ink-dye wash created their beautiful pattern snake masterpieces.

In addition, students learnt that the factors of a number are numbers that can be divided without a remainder. For example, the factors of 6 are the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 6 & were able to get crafty and create these fantastic freaky factor aliens with plenty of arms and legs.

5/6 STEM Place Value Project

Every year, our students use Base Ten building blocks when learning place value. We know that without a thorough knowledge of place value, students have great difficulty succeeding in math, for it is the foundation for everything related to numbers.

To help students master this crucial concept, I invited the 5/6 students to practice with these blocks to develop their number sense in a creative way. After students understand the basics of how Base Ten building blocks represent numbers, I challenge them to channel their inner ‘architect’ and participate in the engineering process to design their own building. There were no rules for these creations and creativity is continually encouraged.

Once students have completed their creations, they had to determine the value of the creation based upon the Base Ten building blocks they used.


Money STEM Challenges

Our students have kicked off learning in financial math by participating in a range of creative, hands-on STEM learning challenges. In addition to the students using a range of ASIC Math Money Smart online resources (highly recommend) the students were given a range of shopping/design challenges.

For example, one challenge required the students to work out how to purchase 5 items from their shopping catalogs (physical & online) to get the LEAST amount of change from $50 and how to get the most value for their money with the MOST change.

Other challenges required the students to buy 10 items with a total amount that would be between $70 and $75, however, you can easily alter the value to suit individual needs. 

Students then applied their understandings on how to complete a canteen order form to practice decimal addition to the hundreds place value with great success!

Note – One challenge the students really enjoyed involved finding 5 items to buy for their teacher! This was a brilliant way to build rapport with your students.


STEM Money Challenges with LEGO

Given the remote context in which I work, I love STEM activities that require few items but get a lot of thinking in.

For several weeks last term my students used LEGO for a variety of STEM projects to practice money skills.

As an introduction to the topic and a necessary stepping stone, I used a variety of online ASIC Money Smart resources & provided an activity where students used laminated canteen lunch order forms and practiced calculating decimal addition to the hundredth place value with success.

I then challenged my students to calculate how much a printed LEGO design was worth. If the red blocks cost $7.45ea, blue blocks cost $3.80 & yellow blocks $2.50.

(These prices were & can be easily differentiated to support individual student needs).

Once my students calculated the individual cost of each coloured brick and calculated the total cost, I was able to present them with their assessment task:  To construct the initials of their name out of LEGO bricks, complete & draw their design and calculate how much their name is worth! 

The students had a lot of fun applying the design process & practicing their skills in making 2D and 3D shapes by building, then drawing their initials out of LEGO bricks. The students practised applying their understandings of decimal addition to mentally calculate the total of their names. As you see, each coloured brick represented a different money amount and this can be easily differentiated to suit student needs.

Fraction Party!

To finish our unit on fractions (and as an important segway into financial mathematics) I gave the students the STEM investigation to plan a fraction party! The students then presented their ‘party plans’ to convince their classmates why they should come to their party & what will be shared through out the day in a  PowerPoint presentation (I look forward to using these for our end of term class party/Open Day with our parents).

The students used everyday shopping catalogs (both physical and online resources) from whole food stores such as Coles & Woolworths, to further extended their understanding of how fractions are part of their daily lives, especially when we are hosting a party and have to purchase enough food items to be shared equally!

The challenge for the students was that they had to plan their party for a group of people. They were asked to include any food as long as it could be divided easily into equal parts. They were required to have at least 4 large food items like pizza, that could be cut into equal portions and 3 small food items like party pies that can be shared in equal numbers.

Students drew or cut & pasted pictures to show the food they would serve and how you would share it before creating their PowerPoint presentations to share with the class.