Sunday, May 24, 2015

Full STEAM Ahead

Once a year, I like to give my kids a chance to just create from scraps and pieces of this and that. One year, we had lots of mechanical items that could be taken apart and made into something else. It took a while for them to understand that the only direction that day was to create something on their own. By the end of the day, they were pretty proud of their creations.

This year, I took another avenue. This year, it was all about cardboard. I saved every tissue box; I saved toilet paper rolls. The day before our big day, I went to Walmart and used a shopping cart, pushing it all around the store. Every place someone was emptying boxes and stocking shelves, I asked if I might have the empty boxes. Sometimes, they were required to send the boxes back for some credit, but most of them were made available to me. I loaded my treasures into the back of my little gold Ranger and headed back to my classroom.

The following day, I presented the kids with the boxes, scissors, rolls of tape, glue and staplers. My only requirements were: it had to be original and something on it had to move. My job, then, became circulating around the room, answering questions and providing the kids (grades 3-8) with anything else they needed.

Again, it took a little while to get started, but once they did, they had a creative blast. Here are a few of their projects:

Of course, these pictures are were all of a work in progress. They made vehicles, animals, video games and more. The greatest thing they got out of it was thinking for themselves. Several weeks after we had enjoyed our day, one of the boys came to me and said, "You know, ever since we had that day when we made things out of boxes, I've been thinking that I might like to make things when I grow up." This came from a student who had no idea what he wanted to do in life. Things may very easily change, but at least he is seeing possibilities.

These two days have made me decide that, next year, all year long, my class is going full STEAM ahead with STEM and STEAM activities. I can hardly wait for the school year to begin. Oh, wait, I guess I should finish this year first.

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