Just before New Years, Brandy and I participated in our second program with the Lincoln Children’s Museum (LCM). This lesson was part of the Full STEAM Ahead program run by the LCM. As part of a 3 day camp, kids engaged in various STEAM related activities, classes, and exhibits.
Our lesson was modified from the HS Prototyping with Rockets lesson developed as part of our Science Literacy curriculum. The challenge was creating an experience for the kids that was simple enough for them to grasp, but challenging enough for them to learn. Prototyping is an abstract concept, challenging for my undergrads to readily grasp. Finding a way to explain the concept to kids with the average age being 8 pushed me to think in new ways. I kept thinking about it in terms of creating, teamwork and imagination. All of those are concepts easier to explain to kids.
Working in groups, kids collected recyclable materials to create their rockets. Working in groups gave them the opportunity to collaborate, to combine their ideas in order to come to the best possible solution. Of course, some kids were more resistant than others to group work, some wanting to make their own rockets. The thought behind the recyclables was to also expose kids to the idea of reusable materials, showing them how to reuse everyday household items for creative purposes. For educators, the recyclables are a way to keep the cost of the activity to a minimum, and allow students to be active in the cultivation of materials for the lesson.
Several of the rockets were imaginative, and some struggled through the teamwork aspect of working in a group – and often, their rockets reflected this. Overall, the kids had a great time and were exposed to new vocabulary, many using the word prototyping correctly and being able to describe what the process entailed.