Saturday, May 10, 2014

Engineering.. Saving Humpty Dumpty

This was another inspiration by Deanna Jump.  I have recently been hired to teach Kindergarten at a STEM school.  I love learning and getting new ideas on my quest to be the best teacher I can be… But engineering?  In Kindergarten?  How on earth do I do that?  Well, it turns out, the same way I do everything, thematically as part of a unit.

This past week we've been working on the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty".  We recited, sang it, read a mini book about it, illustrated it and acted it out.  Now it was time to save Humpty from his dangerous wall sitting tendencies.

I talked with the class about how we keep ourselves save during activities where we might fall.  We came up with helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, band aids..

I told the kids it was their job to design a safety suit for Humpty Dumpty. I put them in 6 groups of 2 or 3.  I gave them the following materials:  A large sheet of paper, a length of adding machine tape, a paper towel, 3 pipe cleaners, a small padded envelope, a length of masking tape and an egg.  (I used supplies I had on hand.)  They could use scissors but nothing else.  I showed them how to tear the masking tape in pieces if desired.  If they ran out of materials they had to make do.

I learned:
Have extra eggs.  The kids may break their eggs in the design process but I didn't want learning to stop there so I gave the groups another egg.
Kids are pretty adaptable.  When they are told they have limited supplies they make do.
Make sure the egg breakage happens outside, in a place where it can end up on the bottom of shoes, and tracked in public spaces.
Keep a scissors and a garbage can handy after the fall off the wall.

Each group had to explain their design and how it works before dropping it off the wall. (Off the top of a high play structure works well too).

As a follow up each group talked about any design changes they would make if they could do it again.
And we may because I have a number of eggs who survived the fall.  Way to save Humpty!