Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is in almost every aspect of today’s world. The Marist Primary School is committed to engaging the children naturally in early STEM exploration through hands-on multisensory and creative experiences and in so doing, the children are developing curiosity, inquisitiveness, critical-thinking and problem-solving capacities. Some examples are given below.
STEM - Junior Infants- The Bud Race
Science : The children in Junior Infants enjoyed exploring and analysing the buds of different trees. The children observed the differences between the buds of the Horsechestnut Tree, the Lime Tree, the Oak Tree and the Beech Tree. The children noticed that some of the buds were sticky, some were red, some were brown, some pointed and some were round. The children also explored the different bark of each tree.
Technology and Maths :The children used colours to predict which bud of which tree would bloom first and this data was graphed. Most children (8 children) choose the Oak Tree, followed by the Horsechestnut Tree (5 children choose this), then the Lime and Beech Tree (2 children choose these trees). The children examined the twigs everyday to see any changes that occurred.
Show and Tell :Junior Infants visited other classes and explained the difference between the twigs when they first examined the twigs and how they changed, which tree bloomed first (the Horsechestnut), which bloomed second (the Lime tree) which bloomed third (the Oak and finally the Beech tree and described how the leaves were different. Some had five leaves, some had single leaves.
Junior Infants - Farm Animals
Science and Maths: The children in Junior Infant were learning about the different farm animals, their mothers and babies and the buildings they live in. We did a survey on the children's favourite animals and graphed the results. More children choose the horse as their favourite animal than any other animal.
Engineering: The children explored building different types of barns, kennels, stables and chicken coops.
STEM – First Class – The Newspaper Challenge
Engineering – The children of First Class enjoyed designing and engineering. The children were faced with a challenge where they had to work together, in a team, to design a free-standing table that would hold at least five books. The only materials that the children were provided with were tape and newspaper. The children were given 25 minutes to complete this challenge.
Maths - Children had to keep the weight of the books in mind as they designed and built their tables. They used their skills of estimation to estimate the weight of the books and their skills of prediction to help the outcome of their build.
Science – Children looked at the different forces that acted upon the table. Before they started to build their table, they thought about how the books would be placed and the forces that would act upon it. They thought about how their design would counteract the weight of the books.
Show and Tell – The children had to present their creations in their groups to the class. They explained and justified why they chose their designs.
STEM – First Class – Coding
Technology – The children of first class used their creativity and problem-solving skills to take part in some coding. The children are not given the answer to their problem, they use trial and error to find a solution to the problem. Experimentation allows the children to see that there may be more than one answer to the question. Coding can help develop lots of new skills. When someone doesn’t tell you the answer, it can take longer to solve a problem, this can help the children to develop persistence and resilience.
Maths – Coding helps the children to visualise abstract concepts. The children need to develop precision as the computer will only do exactly what it is told. The children can see exactly what problem they have to solve and exactly when they are making a mistake.
Show and Tell – The children invited another First Class in to their classroom to explain the challenges they faced and all that they learned.
STEM – First Class – The Marshmallow Challenge
Engineering – The children had to construct a free-standing structure using only marshmallows and spaghetti. Some of the children decided that they would jump straight into the building of the structure. However, once they began, they understood the importance of having a plan of the design process and an idea of the design before starting.
Science – We evaluated the efficiency of the materials we used. After evaluation and discussion, first class decided that for the structure to be more successful, a more durable material than spaghetti would have to be used.
Show and Tell - The children had to present their designs to the class and explain why they thought theirs were the best.
We are very fortunate in our school to have a STEM club. This STEM club consists of girls from both fifth and sixth class. Every Wednesday, this group meets and are faced with a different challenge. Here a just a few of the problems that we designed and investigated different solutions to.
Can you create a parachute using materials to ensure the safe landing of an egg?
Parachutes – The children looked at different materials and decided what would be the most effective to ensure safe landing of their egg.
Science – The children had to think about the forces that would be acting upon the egg. The force of gravity was a big point of discussion in our groups. The children had to also think about materials that could be used. They discussed how the materials used would impact on the air resistance of the parachute.
Engineering – The children explored the materials and designed a model. They had to plan how the parachute would all come together.
Maths – The children looked at the shape, size and measure of each of the materials.
Show and Tell - They presented and investigated their parachutes to the group and decided which parachute would be most effective, based on the results.
How would you create an obstacle course?
Design an Obstacle Course – The children were in teams and used different everyday items, like lollipop sticks, cubes, art supplies, counting materials etc. to design an obstacle course. The opposing team then had to use magnets, underneath the table, to guide a magnetised ball through the course
Science – The children had to think about what materials they would use for their obstacle course. They then had to think about how the magnetised ball might travel over these materials. The children had to think about the force of the magnet and how it would work in the obstacle course.
Engineering – The children had to design and build the obstacle course.
Show and Tell – After the teams had to completed the challenge, the engineers of the maze had to explain the design and their opinion of the best way through it.
How would you design a Paper Rocket?
Maths - The children measured out strips of paper measuring 30 cm in length and 5 cm in width.
Engineering - They then used their twistable to wrap the paper around and create a tight tube. They then designed and fastened a nose for their rocket and flaps from paper.
Science - The children used straws to create a force to blow the rocket. Everyone got a chance to launch their rocket and measure the distance the rocket flew.
How can water stay in a bucket when swung in a circle?
Science -We filled some buckets with handles with water. We then swung the buckets around our heads without the water spilling out. The water stays in the in the bucket because of inertia. The water wants to fly off our, but the bucket gets in the way and keeps it in place.
What age would you be if you lived on another planet?
Maths - For Maths week, we looked at different plants and how time is different there than on earth. We calculated what age we are on each of these planets.
How can you move 10 cups without touching them?
Science - Each group were given 10 cups, an elastic band and four pieces of string. They had to use the band and string to create a device to move the cups into a pyramid formation without using their hands. The first group to achieve this were the winners.
All classes take part in Maths Week every year. Junior and Senior Infants take part in Maths trails. 6th class students play maths based games with the Junior students every day before lunch. Junior students take home maths games as their homework to enjoy with their families.
Our week finishes with a table quiz for all students from 2nd to 6th, mixed age groups, mixed abilities. The children had great fun working and playing together.
During Science Week classes were busy learning experiments and preparing them to showcase to other classes. There was a huge variety of experiments undertaken, some from exploring everyday objects and some that required us to really think outside the box. Our experiments were undertaken by every class level and included among others - The concealed coin, the leak free bag, how to make a lava lamp, dancing raisins, the rainbow experiment, circuit building, a plasma ball, how a hair dryer works, what do magnets attract and even how the level of a ramp effects the distance a car might travel. If only it could be Science Week every week!
Science at it's best!
Watch this space! Or indeed watch the space outside our school! We have begun to grow our own vegetables! How great are we?