This year, thanks to a grant from the Tuscola County Community Foundation, I am teaching an engineering enrichment class each morning during our school-wide intervention time. The class is for 3-5th grade students who are meeting grade level benchmarks in math and reading and have an interest in STEM. With funding from the grant, I have purchased two Engineering is Elementary kits (eie.org), various robotics kits students can build, and 3D printing equipment from Northwest Arkansas 3D (nwa3d.com). For more information about the grant “Students Today, Engineers Tomorrow,” check out the Stem Grants and Projects tab.
While I have worked with robotics and the EiE kits in the past, 3D printing was a new venture for me this year. I knew I needed to bring context to the printing students would be doing in addition to meeting the NGSS 3-5 band engineering standards and decided on a space-themed lesson, due to its wide appeal to students in this age group. The general premise was that we were traveling through space and unfortunately, 4 warning lights had come on. The issues on the ship included an unknown substance growing on the outside of the ship, a broken fan for circulating oxygen, a broken handle on an airlock door, and a small part had fallen into a critical engine so the engine was in danger of being damaged. Each group was handed a card that explained the issue and provided constraints for the task, one of which was a 3 hour time limit to design a solution and have it printed. Students also needed to fill out a sheet that showed their steps through the engineering design process. To most effectively meet the engineering standards’ mandate that multiple solutions to a problem are developed, I divided the class into 8 groups, so two groups worked independently on the same problem.
The STEM Sisters are Elementary Teachers working together on STEM related topics and projects.