Normally today I would talk to you about one of the many creations my son has put together, but Making & Tinkering with STEM came into my mailbox and it’s such a neatly done book that I just had to share it with you. It has me salivating at the thought of making things with children in K-3! Just looks so fun!
What I like about STEM is that it encourages the builder to think. Open-ended STEM challenges, where there can be more than one solution to a problem, helps children develop problem solving abilities regardless of where they will end up in life.
A child designer (destined for the world of clothes and glamour) could use STEM to build a materials bridge (that is fashionably accessorized) out of cloth and pins and beads, whereas a structurally engineer-minded builder might use popsicles and duct table (or rope and sticks) that does the job at hand as strongly as possible. BOTH complete the task, but they go about it from a different point of view. So a properly run STEM class meets the needs of all it’s potential designers.
You see that orange strip? It tells you the concepts being taught. Handy eh?
In Making & Tinkering with STEM, Cate Heroman, since she’s designing challenges for young children, takes a picture book with a problem in it, for instance in the book Not A Box! A Bunny sees a box as ANYTHING other than a box. The challenge… what can YOU turn a box into? Will you use one of Bunny’s ideas or will you come up with something new? What materials do you need to make it? Then once it is built, is there anything you can do to make it better? Can you play a game with it? Tell a story? Can you share it with someone else and have some fun together?
Isn’t that a neat concept? Helping young children see the possibilities? Not leaving out the artistically minded, or the “I don’t like to make things” minded children. You are engaging them on all levels. I remember doing a hands-on class once with some children and there was one youngster who simple couldn’t cope with making anything.. too messy or sticky or …. You know, some kids just can’t. But this lad liked to watch and talk, so he still managed to be part of the class which was very cool.
The Book Cover:
A fun, accessible approach to the maker movement! With 25 classroom-ready engineering design challenges inspired by children’s favorite books, educators can seamlessly integrate making and tinkering and STEM concepts (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in preschool through third grade classrooms.
What you get:
An introductory section that is 20 pages long introducing you to the value of a STEM based educational time with young children, walking you through safety concerns, how to use it and how a design challenge is created. This section is well worth reading.
Then comes the Design Challenges, 25 challenges, arranged alphabetically by challenge name, not by the book used.
The books vary from the very familiar Goldilocks and the Three Bears, to the unknown The Paper Caper. It could easily be the books used are familiar to more people, but I only knew about half of them. I could easily see that using a book with a similar theme would work just as well.
The set up in the same for all of them.
Colourful page showing the possibilities along with the Project title and name of the book.
This is followed by questions about the story, for instance with the Squirrel-proof birdfeeder:
“Old man Fookwire loves watching and painting pictures of birds. He builds some birdfeeders and fills them with seeds and berries to keep the birds around in the winter — but those darn squirrels keep getting into the birdfeeders and eating all the treats! What does Old Man Fookwire do to keep the squirrels away? Does it work?”
With a materials list that vary in length and items used. For the birdfeeder challenge they children could use a variety of cardboard boxes and tubes, with tape, glue, brads etc along with decorating items. Safety equipment is also listed.
Then comes the design challenge, can you build a birdfeeder, just any type of bird feeder. With an additional challenge for the engineering minded: how tall can you build a stable, freestanding birdfeeder?
While working on the design challenge a number of questions are postulated to help the children in their task. These fall under the titles of “Think about it”, “Build or Create it”, “Try it”, “Revise or make it better” and “Share”.
The final page in the challenge lists some follow up questions to ask the children, along with ways to delve deeper into the subject matter, with others books you might want to use as well or instead of.
I am SO excited about this book. I want to dig into it and have a class for grades 2 and 3 at the local library, or perhaps talk to the town about putting something together. It would be a hoot to work through these challenges together don’t you think? Fostering a love for reading and thinking… just simply fantastic! Don’t you think it would be fun to see if a student could make a noise maker that could be heart 30 feet away? Or make a tower that can raise and lower an object? How about making a car that can move two feet under it’s own power? Or how about a house that can stand up to a fan blowing on it?
Making & Tinkering with STEM: solving design challenge with young children
National Association for the Education of Young Children
144 pages, tradepaperback
STEM, engineering, Science, Math, Tinkering
Reviewed for: NAEYC
Where to find: