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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Solving a Real Problem through the Engineering Design Process: An Integrated STEM Unit

Scholars really enjoyed creating bird feeders for our school garden this week. I think they did a fabulous job!

One of my favorite examples: The Tiki Hut Bird Feeder #creativity

Building bird feeders was a student generated project. I few weeks ago, scholars created 'binoculars' to use for bird watching in our garden. 

We were learning about the attributes of spring in Science we thought we'd make some observations. We went to the garden for some birdwatching. We counted a total of 5 birds and I'm pretty sure we counted one of them twice! #nobirds!

As the kids began to talk about 'why' there were no birds, the conversation turned to 'how can we attract more birds'. They asked if we could make some bird feeders, "kinda like the special projects that all the First Ladies have"...we'd just finished a Social Studies unit on who in our past exemplifies good citizenship with a focus on the contributions of First Ladies over the years.

And so began the process of creating bird feeders.

Identifying the Problem:
The challenge:

The Knows and Need to Knows:

In order to begin answering these questions, I created a Nearpod presentation to help scholars IMAGINE the possibilities.
Below are a few screenshots from the presentation.

Additionally, I created a Symbaloo to be used on classroom laptops to help scholars research birds and how to attract them to a garden.

Armed with new knowledge and plenty of ideas, scholars moved into the planning stage.

Design & Improve:
I shared a checklist to help guide these young engineers through the work of designing and improving. 
Scholars gathered their own materials and began the work of building bird feeders. I have no pictures of this process as I was quite busy at the "hot and sharp" table...My job was to provide 2 services: hot gluing and X-ACTO knife cutting. #fulldisclosure
Here are the final products!

Weather permitting, these beautiful creations will be hung in out school garden on Monday, when birds will surely come from near and far to feed!

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