Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Young Engineers throw punches in the Library

Last year as a new STEM school we embraced the Cardboard Challenge (click here to check out Caine's story). As we near our second year of involvement it is apparent how far we have come, both as a STEM school and students. This year as we discuss the challenge in the Library my kids are READY. It's as if they have waited all year to better last year's creations. I have heard about stability, engagement, ramps, and motion all week. From 7 year olds!

After asking teachers how we can frontload in the Library this year I had an interesting response: Please expose second graders to more arcade games. Kids love Caine and embrace his challenge but if they do not have that background knowledge regarding hands on arcade games there is only so far they can go.

Hello, Google. And forget searching "arcade", "classic arcade" "old fashioned arcade". Carnival Games were finally what I needed and we spent a fun 30 minutes discussing and critiquing games from Plinko and AirHockey to PinBall and SkeeBall.

Kinder and First read Iggy Peck, Architect and The Three Ninja Pigs. Out came the building blocks and cool cubes I have not seen before. I was proud of the bridge some of our girls created with the bracing they pointed out to me.


I read Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building with 4/5 and pulled out the Lego Robotix Challenge Kits. The history shared through the text was a complete discussion while/ after we read and the end pages had compelling pictures from the actual build time.

I poured through pages of Engineering Challenges and actually had the marshmallow box ready to go with 4/5 but after setting out the trays and pairing the kids I decided it was time for free build. When they picked up their base they had to tell me what structure they were building and was I ever blown away! Granted, I don't have much LEGO experience with kids but that aside I was impressed. Complete, TOTAL CONCENTRATION. Creative process in motion and the library was humming.


And that's when it happened (no pics, sorry, too shocked). A scuffle, some 5th grade cussing and LEGOS flying when it was time to head to Spanish. And so it turns out I need to pay a little more attention to the groups I create when Engineering. There is that reason GT kids are split among groups in collaboration and I found that when the LEGOS came out all kids are GT. With well developed ideas and execution. Just don't be that person who actually hears your Librarian call for clean up and start the clearing. Woe to that person. Actually, after that person shoves back and lights up the checkout line, woe to both 5th Graders who are back in the Library at recess time, minus the LEGOS.

I texted my husband after they left and told him we had WW3 revolving around LEGOS and I got a "Duh...." back.