The 5/6 students have enjoyed adding the Arts into the STEM curricula by creating their own energetic and colourful fraction kites! This hands-on activity helped engage students into a new unit of work in Math about fractions & is an awesome diagnostic tool for assessment. The students loved learning that fractions are parts of a whole amount while creating their explanation key, featured on the tail end of their kites.
Some students further extended their understandings by converting their colour-coded keys into number stories explaining them in decimals and percentages too.
“So, there are 100 squares on the grid and each fraction together has to equal the whole amount”
– Sarakia Francis (explaining the activity to a classmate)
My 5/6 students have been given a design & engineering project in Math to create a probability game for our upcoming class Probability Carnival.
The goal presented to the students was to design a game that gives everyone equal chance to win.
The students have researched what kinds of games are played at carnivals and used their imagination to create a probability game that multiple players could enjoy playing.
One of our students even came up with a creative game to help teach us the concept of probability called ‘heads & tails’ (for instructions & rules on how to play this game, check my freebies page on the 30th of September)
To complete this activity the students have had to actively participate in the design & engineering process by defining their goals, brainstorming possible solutions, sketching blueprints and creating prototypes of their games to test and improve on their designs for our carnival.
We are all looking forward to inviting our parents and families in to join us for our in-class ‘Probability Carnival’ in the last week of school. In addition, the students have applied their understandings of probability in order to test their prototypes of their design by collect real-life data of the outcomes of their games to analyse just how ‘fair’ their game is.
The students practiced calculating the mean, median and mode of the data collected, with some students even making further numerical connections by representing the chance or likelihood of an event occurring by converting their results into fractions and percentages –what a fantastic segway into learning decimals.
Last semester, our class participated in many STEM activities to teach us what adaptation is, how beak adaptations assist birds to survive in their environments, how the frillneck lizard has adapted to survive in forest environments as well as how the structural and behavioural adaptations of the echidna help it to survive in Australian environments.
With these understandings in mind, the students were presented with the following global problem:
“There are currently eight species of bears that exist in the world; all of which face threats to their habitats, food supply and overall survival. Deforestation, hunting and climate change are among the main threats to their survival. If current human actions continue, bears may find themselves having to adapt to warmer climates to survive” (Science: A STEM Approach)
The students were then given the task to design and create a new species of bear that has adapted to survive in arid conditions of an Australia desert, and a diorama of its new environment. Students were then filmed explaining how their bears adaptations allowed it to survive in its new environment.
The students really enjoyed incorporating technologies, engineering and linking their understandings in math (area & perimeter) to explain their diorama structure further.
I’d like to share one of my favourite resources & lessons in science, adapted from RIC Publications’ Science: A STEM approach resource book pictured below. This resource book is fantastic, Australian Curriculum aligned and contains many useful resources for mainstream classrooms (easy to adapt and differentiate to suit the needs of your own students).
In this lesson, the students carried out an investigation to answer the science inquiry question: How have beak adaptations assisted birds to survive in Australian environments? We used some everyday tools like chopsticks, scissors, straws and plastic spoons to simulate how birds use their beaks for feeding. The students then rotated through some learning stations to help them answer the investigative question ‘which ‘beak’ or tool is the most effective?’
One of our learning stations asked the students to answer the investigative question “Which ‘beak’ is most effective at digging up and eating ‘worms’?” In this station, students dug through the soil to dig out rubber bands cut in half (worms).
The students then used the tools provided to rate which ‘beak’ was most effective.
Another learning station, asked the students to answer the investigative question “Which beak is the most effective at cracking seeds open?” Here, the students were given a plate full of sunflower and pumpkin seeds and asked to use their ‘beaks’ to crack the seeds open.
Overall, the students learned quickly that although chopsticks are good for picking out ‘worms’ from soil and plastic spoons are better at collecting ‘fish’ from water, neither of these ‘beaks,’ are effective in cracking open seeds. Drawing a conclusion that scissor-like beaks on some birds are definitely better than long, thin straw-like beaks, which are better at drawing water and honey.
STEM capabilities are developed when students are challenged to solve open-ended, real-world problems that engage students in the processes of STEM disciplines.
With this in mind, I assigned my students a STEM project to ‘Design a House’ with the task of designing a floor & furniture plan.
The goal for my students was to design a layout that includes at least 1 x bedroom, 1 x bathroom, 1 x kitchen & 1 x toilet (further differentiated dependent on student ability) and complete an interior design work task sheet to answer questions regarding the area and perimeter of their spaces.
Note-My support students were further provided with a scaffolded floor plan with rooms already sectioned off – This is a great idea when differentiating this project for younger learners.
The students drew what their house looked like from above (bird’s-eye view) without the roof & what it looked like from the front (front view) with the roof. Some students enjoyed seeing they someone else could build their house using their plans with MAB unit blocks.
Throughout this process, my students answered many critical thinking questions related to estimating, finding area, and finding perimeter. In addition, they continually built on their Mathematical understandings of dimensions & measurement whilst further developing their skills in Technology.
This task required the students to consider engineering principles, use scaled instruments to represent their designs as annotated diagrams/plans, work collaboratively to build a three-dimensional model and use computer-aided design technology to draw their design.