Algorithms for Algorithms

When students create a computer program they are creating an algorithm or listing the steps needed for something to happen.  Students also use algorithms in mathematics; in this case the algorithms would be the steps taken to divide fractions or multiply decimals.  Students were challenged to create a program in Scratch that reteaches a math concept. By elaborating on their understanding of the math by teaching the concept to others, this will help them store this skill in their long term memory!

Here are their final products:

Mr. Beighley’s Class

Mrs. Brock’s Class

Mrs. Hartle’s Class

Mrs. Keczmer’s Class

Mrs. Ramer’s Class

Mrs. Rupik’s Class

Multiplication the Fun Way

Students in 4th Grade read stories from the book Times Tables the Fun Way that provides tales and visuals to help students remember their multiplication facts.  For example, for 6 x 6 their are the two 6s that are wandering through the desert an and they are “thirsty sixes”.  Thirsty six sounds like 36, so students will remember more easily that 6 x6 = 36.  They recreated these stories by creating a program in Scratch, a free programming software from MIT.  Here are links to their work:

Mrs. Malatesta’s Class

Mrs. Ray’s Class

Mrs. Rusnak’s Class

Mrs. Shumsky’s Class

Exploring Potential and Kinetic Energy with Hotwheels

4th Graders explored Potential and Kinetic Energy through the Hotwheels Speedometry curriculum.  First, they explored making ramps.  They started with a ramp that was one book high, and measured how far their car went. Then, they added 2, 3, and 4 books.  They ran 3 trials each time and found the mean and created a bar graph of their results. Next, the explored using clamps to attach their ramp to a shelf to make their hill higher and subsequently increase the potential energy of their car.  Students also explored different variables like the aerodynamics of the different models of cars and friction of surfaces.  Here is a video summary of their work:

Exploring Electric Circuits with Little Bits

Students in 3rd grade were the first to get their hands on the Little Bits Kits!  These kits contain electronic build blocks that snap together with magnets.  The bits are color coded: blue bits are power bits, pink bits are input bits and green bits are output bits.  We tied in the reading skill “Cause and Effect” to help us understand input and output.  We learned that the input tells the output what to do, so it always has to come first otherwise our circuit won’t work.  We say the input is the “cause” and the output is the “effect”.  After completing a series of challenges, the students followed the Engineering & Design process to create a prototype of an invention that would solve a problem at school.  Currently, our 4th graders are exploring the Little Bits, and we are hoping to use them with 5th and 6th graders also.  Here is a video of our 3rd grade projects:

Creating Art that Moves

3rd Graders learned about the Kinetic Artist, Rube Goldberg in STEAM.  A Kinetic Artist makes art that moves.  During this unit students learned about simple machines and were challenged to create 3 simple machines out of recyclable materials.  The goal was to get these simple machines to work together to make a more complex machine.  A Rube Goldberg machine performs a simple task in a complex manner.  For example, students created a device that turned off the lights or turned on a computer.  The students were supposed to create chain reactions and we tied in our reading skill of “Cause and Effect” into our projects.  We followed the Engineering & Design Process (Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create and Improve)  and documented our progress in our notebooks. Here is a video summary of our Rube Goldberg unit:

Engineering a Structurally Sound Pet Rock Playground

Second Grade Students were reading about pets in their Reading class.  In STEAM students designed pet rocks.  Then, they worked together to design and engineer play ground equipment that was strong enough to hold their pet rocks.  They followed the Engineering & Design Process (Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create and Improved) and documented their progress in their Engineering & Design Notebooks.  Students created jungle gyms out of craft sticks and binder clips, and they made swings, slides and see saws out of recyclable materials such as, milk jugs, tissue boxes, cardboard tubes, egg cartons and newspaper.  Here is a video summary of their work: