Monday, January 17, 2011

Cooperative Learning with a STEM Lesson

      This is an example of a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) lesson that is done as a part of inquiry based learning at our school.  We try to get one of these projects done for every science unit we cover.  The one that I am posting as an example was a lesson that was done with  the force and motion/push and pull unit.  We follow a simplistic version of the engineering process.
      Throughout this process the students work in cooperative learning groups.  Each member of the group has a special job that he or she does during the engineering process.  To get the labels and descriptions for the cooperative learning group jobs, click this link:  Cooperative Learning Labels.

     In the "Imagine" stage, we go through a PowerPoint explain to the students what the project will require them to do. Click this link to view the PowerPoint Presentation I made for the push and pull unit:  Ramps: Forces and Motion ppt. If you would like the PowerPoint with working animations, just email me!  After the PowerPoint, the students break into their cooperative learning groups and the scribe of the group draws, with input from the group, what the final result will look like.
     In the "Plan" stage, again with input from the group, the scribe will  list all the materials that the group will need to complete the project.  The materials manager then brings the list to me at the "store" and get all the materials the group has listed.  By doing this the group must think ahead and decided what will work best for the final project.  They also have to think about everything that is needed to complete the project, like glue or tape to hold the larger materials together or scissors to cut the materials.  In the ramp project specifically the students had to choose what materials would work best for a platform and a ramp.
      The "Design" stage is when the group actually builds the ramp or whatever the project maybe. Then they test it to see if their planning and design was successful.    In this case the ramps were successful if the car was able to be pushed from the platform and roll past at least 5 floor tiles.
                           Needs Improvement :(

      If the design did not succeed, then the group must rethink and improve upon the original design. 

     As with most everything we do in out class, we always end with a writing.  Each student will write their own story about the project.


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  4. What items were your students allowed to use to design their platform and ramp?