Saturday, February 17, 2018

Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (freebie)

Our fifth graders have to take the Massachusetts STE test in the spring.  It is a state test that covers grades 3-5 science, technology and engineering standards.  As part of a review, I had my classes create basic circuits using batteries, holders, wires, light bulbs and sockets.  

I wanted to bring their knowledge to the next level.  We then used the snap circuit kits to learn about more complex circuits.   My student LOVE them!!!  The projects are endless.  Please warn your students about the fragile wires on some of the pieces.  I had to order some new parts.  I am going to learn how to solder.

We read the Science A-Z book on "Setting Up Circuits."  My students needed information on resistors and transistors.  I buy the annual subscription and find it worthwhile.
The next part of the module was having my students read the book "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind."  It is a true story about a boy in Malawi who made a windmill to generate electricity and water for his village.  My students were intrigued with the story.  They had so many questions.  We watched a video about William.
We brainstormed problems in the story and narrowed down the ones that could be solved with engineering.  This lesson is based on Novel Engineering.  A project that was developed by Tufts University.  Please check out their website for ideas and challenges.
Here is our list of problems
 The students had to use electricity and teach William's village that would solve the following problems; no water, darkness and extreme heat.  The chart below are the materials that my students used.  I am a big fan of recyclables.
 One of my standards is sketching and showing related parts.  Here are two great examples.  

Here are some photos of my students and their designs.  We had many types of fans, street lights, a drill for water, and a few other original ideas.  Next term, I want to do a lesson on just propellers and fan blades.
To model how a windmill can generate electricity I bought a crank radio/flashlight from Amazon.  The students had the chance to crank it and listen to music in class.
Here is the sheet I used with my classes.  

Click here for link

Monday, January 15, 2018

Blocks for Big Kids: KEVA Planks

My students love KEVA planks!!!!  

What are KEVA Planks? (visit
  • Every building piece is the same. 
  • KEVA planks are about 1/4 inch thick, 3/4 inch wide and 4 1/2 inches long.
  •  No sorting or looking for special pieces
  • You build structures by simply stacking the planks. 
  • No glue or connectors.
  • Easy clean up.
  • Made of sturdy maple.

The only difference between the two sets below is the contraptions set has two balls and the manuals are different.  The contraption manual has some ways to set up ramps.  I have both sets.

Check out a video using the contraptions

My students' first challenge with KEVA planks was to build the tallest tower using 50 planks.  They all quickly built a tower looking like a Jenga game.  I walked around the room with a meter stick measuring and asking them to try another way.  How can we get them taller?  
I did this lesson with five classes and it was so much fun to watch the process in all of them.  As the time went on the towers got taller.  They figured out various ways to get height.
KEVA Planks are a great filler when students are finished their work before other groups.  I had them create bridges during our bridge unit.
I use KEVA Planks as a choice at Maker Space Club.  The possibilities are endless.
The Boston Children's Museum has an exhibit that is very inspiring.  

KEVA has an amazing website with information, lesson plans, building ideas, videos and much more.
Click to go to website

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Baby It's Cold Outside

We have been battling some very cold weather this week in New England.  We spent the week at out camp in New Hampshire and the heat was broken and we had a frozen water pipe.  Luckily we got both fixed and didn't have any damage.

I have always wanted to do the boiling water experiment and got my daughter's boyfriend to go outside for me.  AMAZING!!!!
I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year!!!!  I have been going back to Weight Watchers and I love their new program.  I need to get back to the gym and get back into my routines.  I want make changes that will last.
 I love the "One Little Word" instead of a resolution.  Here is a great list if you need an idea.

My One Little Word for this year is INSPIRE.  I want to inspire my students, family and friends.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Show and Tell Tuesday: December

Sorry I am a day late to the party...better late than never.

I am linking up with Forever in 5th Grades Monthly Linky Party called Show and Tell Tuesday.  
Here are a few things that I'd like Show and Tell!
My engineering classes have been building structures.  My kids love my new Kinex set from Donor's Choose.  I highly recommend this building set.

 My students are creating bridges using popsicle sticks that can allow a car to pass and hold weight.  This group had one of the best designs.

My family getting ready for our 27th annual tree tour progressive dinner.  My favorite tradition.  We even added shirts this year!!!

I got a new iphone 8 from xmas and I am obsessed with the camera.  I took this quickly today and I love the lighting.

I am teaching until Friday...and yes, I will be teaching!!!! We don't do holidays or celebrations in my district.  My students will be testing their bridges.

Please visit Forever in Fifth Grade!