Stepping into S.T.E.M

Hey friends! Denise here from Sunny Days in Second Grade.

Our entire second grade team has been slowly incorporating S.T.E.M projects into our monthly plans. At first, the term S.T.E.M sounded a little daunting, but after a bit of research I found that it's actually quite easy to bring these engaging, hands-on experiences into the classroom.

S.T.E.M of course, stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math. Not all components of S.T.E.M will be incorporated into each activity. Most that I've found seem to be heavily focused on engineering. I've been collecting some great ideas and products on Pinterest if you want to take a look-see.

Follow Denise Boehm's board STEM on Pinterest.

So this year we started out with the cup stacking challenge. It's quite deceptive! It really seems to be an easy task, until you get started and you realize just how much thought and planning is involved. And how one false move can bring you right back to square one!

For this challenge, I broke up the kids into groups of three. Each group got 40 small plastic cups and they had 10 minutes to construct the tallest tower they could using all of the cups. That's it! Easier said than done though. We had lots of collapses and lots of rebuilding - and lots of fun!

In the end, we also had a standing tower from each team. Success!

You'll notice from the picture above that the towers were all almost identical in design. So after we put away the supplies, we talked about ways that we might do things a bit differently next time. I guided them towards thinking of different shaped bases, besides the pyramid. The next day, we tried it again. Same teams, same goal, same supplies, but we now had the experience from the first attempt and what we learned from our discussion. Our results were a bit different this time around:

Notice the round base on this one!

You can see that this experience took very little planning and prep time other than grabbing some plastic cups during my weekly shopping trip (which can be shared by many classes). After this first S.T.E.M. experience, my kids are hooked! Our plan is to incorporate one challenge a month and then at the end of the year invite the parents into the room to complete a challenge with us.

You can read a little more about another popular S.T.E.M challenge I completed with my class last year on my blog. I tried it on a whim for a fun end of the year activity and I knew immediately I wanted it to be a big part of my classroom this year. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

1 comment

  1. I LOVE your STEM challenges! The tower one was wonderful for my kiddos. We tried one this month that was building a tower with index cards. It was a lot. I'll have to try the cups next!

    What I Have Learned


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