Friday, March 18, 2016

3rd Graders Use STEM to Learn about Ancient Civilizations!

This week, we made a BRIDGE (pun intended!) from Ancient Rome to Ancient Egypt. We learned about how these civilizations transported water from water sources to cities and crops in order to survive. After the STEM activity, we studied Ancient Egyptian canals and the Nile River floods as well as Ancient Roman aqueducts.

STEM engineering activity.
Students were given the task of transporting water from a source to a bucket located at the other end of a table. They were given paper plates, cups, straws, and tape to make their structures. The goal was to move as much water into the bucket with as little spillage (leaks!) as possible. What fun!

The kids had some great discussions as they explored scientific principles like gravity. I offered very little information, and they weren't given any additional materials -- despite the begging and pleading that predictably occurred! It was fascinating to watch as they developed more creative solutions to their problems when I told them they had to "figure out" alternatives!

For example, several groups figured out that they could "test" water flow by instead blowing through one end of the tubing. They tested for leaks by feeling if air escaped and determined the likelihood of water making it to the bucket. My favorite quote of the week was from Audrey: "If it's airtight, it should be watertight!" That's a pretty awesome scientific deduction!

The construction begins...





Now it's on to testing!




There were a few leaks and a few groups whose structures did not work as the teams had hoped. As a teacher, I believe this was the most valuable part of the experiment. We focused on discovering how we can learn from our mistakes and discussed which scientific principles affected the outcome. I promise -- every student in the class thought of ways they would have changed their design for improvement!



Last, we measured the amount of water that made it into the bucket across the table.


1. Hunter and Gabe
2. Shreyas
3. Reema, Risha, Maria, and Nicole
4. Ellie and Evan
5. Krithin, Nicket, Rayyan, and Romel

Congrats, teams!