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Half year STEM suggestion for mixed age co-op?

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What would you suggest for a STEM class for a co-op broken up by grades (1-4 and 5-8)?

 

I'm looking for something that has a very reasonable cost per kid and doesn't take too much prep for the teacher. 

Also, I'm not looking to start a full curriculum mid year.

 

Thanks!

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kidswhothink.blogspot.com has engineering challenges. Basically you provide a little baggie of paper clips, straws, tape, etc. and turn the kids loose on building a specific item. 

 

Magic School Bus has been a fun class for grades 1-4. You can read the book or watch the video and then do an activity based on it. This page has classroom activities available. http://www.scholastic.com/magicschoolbus/

 

Nature study is a low-cost, high interest option.

 

The human body is always an option, and for the younger ones it's pretty easy and inexpensive using pinterest ideas. 

 

My old co-op did a biomes study that went very well. 

 

If anyone has Five In A Row laying around, you could do a weekly picture book with science activities for the youngers. 

 

Edit: I've always wanted to teach this because I'm also a history geek  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Native-American-Homes-STEM-STEM-Engineering-Challenge-Pack-Set-of-8-1272344

Edited by beckyjo
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There is a free curriculum by that PBS kids show Design Squad. You download the three books and it has all the teacher notes, challenges, and discussion/follow up questions. We have done a science summer class two year now, and have had a blast with these. Even the neighborhood kids joined in, after being super apprehensive about 'school' during the summer. It uses all household stuff, duct tape, coins, straws, etc.

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Teachers pay teachers have some great and complete stem curriculum for sale. I have not bought it, but I am thinking of teaching a stem class next year.

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You want a full curriculum or suggestions for different activities?

 

I run a 4-H STEM club for ages 7 to 13.  I usually get ideas from Pinterest or just general searches of the internet.  So far we've done:

 

Alka Seltzer rockets - talking first about the chemistry and why it worked

Rocks & Minerals - cracked open geodes and learned about how to identify minerals

Build a boat challenge - foil, straws and tape, they tried to build the boat that would hold the most pennies

"Earthquake"-proof structure challenge - straws and tape, they tried to build the tallest structure that could withstand a shake table (we used a pan of jello)

Squishy Circuits - regular play-doh conducts electricity and since my group is big I just ordered that instead of making a ton of it.  I made the insulating dough.  We used LED lights, battery packs.

Catapults/Trebuchets - build a catapult

Balloon towers - balloons and tape, build the tallest tower

Egg Drop challenge

Rube Goldberg machines - I'll admit, this one didn't go well

Polymers - we made Gak and bouncy balls

Mentos/Coke - we compared 5 different candies with 5 different sodas (with seltzer as a control) and tracked the results, then discussed the reasons why Mentos/Diet Coke worked best

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Have you ever considered first lego league? It is a robotics competition that includes a research project. It runs from Sept-Dec. It is a lot of fun and very educational.

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Have you ever considered first lego league? It is a robotics competition that includes a research project. It runs from Sept-Dec. It is a lot of fun and very educational.

I don't know about FLL. I mean, it is a great program, and the kids learned a lot, but the OP said not a lot of prep for the teacher. It might be because it was our first year but I found it very time intensive for our team and I was only coaching the project and the core values. Two other parents were in charge of the programming and robot design coaching and they put quite a bit of time and effort too.

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I don't know about FLL. I mean, it is a great program, and the kids learned a lot, but the OP said not a lot of prep for the teacher. It might be because it was our first year but I found it very time intensive for our team and I was only coaching the project and the core values. Two other parents were in charge of the programming and robot design coaching and they put quite a bit of time and effort too.

 

I think it depends on what you are going for. You can complete the season and only compete in scrimmages. Or not compete at all. Or only compete in the robotics games. You just do that knowing you won't move on. We always compete against robot only teams during 1st round qualifiers. As for core values, I don't really "teach" those. I just insert them where they fit organically. Truthfully, if you want to have a chance at moving on, you do have to put in some time and effort, but the program is totally adaptable.

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I think it depends on what you are going for. You can complete the season and only compete in scrimmages. Or not compete at all. Or only compete in the robotics games. You just do that knowing you won't move on. We always compete against robot only teams during 1st round qualifiers. As for core values, I don't really "teach" those. I just insert them where they fit organically. Truthfully, if you want to have a chance at moving on, you do have to put in some time and effort, but the program is totally adaptable.

I guess you are right that you can adapt to your team goals. Our team's goal was to qualify for the Legoland competition. We had a competitive bunch; they would not have gone for anything less! We got lucky and ended getting the Championship Award at our qualifier, which ensured a place at Legoland. It was simply inspiring to see the amazing work of the teams at Legoland, plus we got to enjoy some rides in between! Three of the team members were so inspired that are already preparing for the Spring Showdown.

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You want a full curriculum or suggestions for different activities?

 

I run a 4-H STEM club for ages 7 to 13.  I usually get ideas from Pinterest or just general searches of the internet.  So far we've done:

 

Alka Seltzer rockets - talking first about the chemistry and why it worked

Rocks & Minerals - cracked open geodes and learned about how to identify minerals

Build a boat challenge - foil, straws and tape, they tried to build the boat that would hold the most pennies

"Earthquake"-proof structure challenge - straws and tape, they tried to build the tallest structure that could withstand a shake table (we used a pan of jello)

Squishy Circuits - regular play-doh conducts electricity and since my group is big I just ordered that instead of making a ton of it.  I made the insulating dough.  We used LED lights, battery packs.

Catapults/Trebuchets - build a catapult

Balloon towers - balloons and tape, build the tallest tower

Egg Drop challenge

Rube Goldberg machines - I'll admit, this one didn't go well

Polymers - we made Gak and bouncy balls

Mentos/Coke - we compared 5 different candies with 5 different sodas (with seltzer as a control) and tracked the results, then discussed the reasons why Mentos/Diet Coke worked best

 

 

This is what we just did. It was an experience for sure. We discovered the kids don't work well in teams. And half the time (usually MY time to teach) the experiments needed major adjusting to get to work. 

 

 

One we did that worked out well was cloud in a jar :)

 

Have you ever considered first lego league? It is a robotics competition that includes a research project. It runs from Sept-Dec. It is a lot of fun and very educational.

 

 

I have done FLL Jr and I really enjoyed it. I was hesitant to suggest this b/c group are limited to 6 and supply cost might be an issue. But a few families are not coming back this term, so it might work out. 

 

I saw with the older grades you can still register, but can't compete if registering late. 

 

Thanks all for the ideas!

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This is what we just did. It was an experience for sure. We discovered the kids don't work well in teams. And half the time (usually MY time to teach) the experiments needed major adjusting to get to work. 

 

 

One we did that worked out well was cloud in a jar :)

 

 

 

I have done FLL Jr and I really enjoyed it. I was hesitant to suggest this b/c group are limited to 6 and supply cost might be an issue. But a few families are not coming back this term, so it might work out. 

 

I saw with the older grades you can still register, but can't compete if registering late. 

 

Thanks all for the ideas!

 

Our group works pretty good in teams.  The main thing I can't do is set up different stations for things.  I tend to lose them in between.  It's a very active, extremely loud group of kids I have.  Lots of quirky kids but they all get along pretty well.

 

Our Rube Goldberg machines were a bust.  I don't think any group was able to get them to work.   Everything else I listed worked well.  We had tried to do electronic circuits using wires, battery packs and lights to build flashlights, and that was a bust.  It was too hard for them to connect the wires.  The Squishy Circuits worked much, much better.

 

We are going to do robots using Edison robots in the next few months.  They were cheaper than Lego and work with Amazon Fire tablets for programming.   

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We are going to do robots using Edison robots in the next few months.  They were cheaper than Lego and work with Amazon Fire tablets for programming.   

 

I'm checking this out now and it looks really good. Affordable. I'm trying to figure out the recommended ages, do you think this would work for little ones, 7-9 too?

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I'm checking this out now and it looks really good. Affordable. I'm trying to figure out the recommended ages, do you think this would work for little ones, 7-9 too?

 

My group ranges from 6 to 13 years old, with the majority being 8 to 10 years old.  I expect them all to be able to handle Edison, but they all read well.

 

I plan to take one meeting to play around with them, learn the buttons, etc, and play with the bar codes.  Then one or two meetings of programming.  I'm going to pre-load a sample program that I know works onto the tablets so they can see what is needed and can modify that or make their own.

 

I taught Dot & Dash robots to 2nd and 3rd graders in the fall (afterschool enrichment).  They were able to do ALL of the D&D stuff completely independently.  I expect Edison to be slightly harder, but I also have no plans to just set them loose.  I expect to work with them and walk them through it in the beginning.  I think my older kids (anyone over 10 or 11) would find D&D too babyish.

 

I plan to use my Edisons to offer robotics and coding classes to homeschoolers in the Fall.  Since they weren't that expensive, I won't have to charge a million dollars like most of the similar classes around here.

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My group ranges from 6 to 13 years old, with the majority being 8 to 10 years old.  I expect them all to be able to handle Edison, but they all read well.

 

I plan to take one meeting to play around with them, learn the buttons, etc, and play with the bar codes.  Then one or two meetings of programming.  I'm going to pre-load a sample program that I know works onto the tablets so they can see what is needed and can modify that or make their own.

 

I taught Dot & Dash robots to 2nd and 3rd graders in the fall (afterschool enrichment).  They were able to do ALL of the D&D stuff completely independently.  I expect Edison to be slightly harder, but I also have no plans to just set them loose.  I expect to work with them and walk them through it in the beginning.  I think my older kids (anyone over 10 or 11) would find D&D too babyish.

 

I plan to use my Edisons to offer robotics and coding classes to homeschoolers in the Fall.  Since they weren't that expensive, I won't have to charge a million dollars like most of the similar classes around here.

 

Thank you so much for your help! I'm now considering teaching Edison on my own outside of co-op in the fall too :)

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