If you have a child that needs or wants more hands on STEM activities in their school day then you might want to check out the STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading that Tied 2 Teaching has developed. Pssst… by the way, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, in case you weren’t sure.
STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading
Tied 2 Teaching sells monthly/seasonal bundles of STEM challenges. This PDF bundle is a collection of all of the monthly activities, plus others. For example, here is a snapshot of the March bundle cover page:
There are 4 challenges per month, plus fifteen that are not attached to a particular month.
You don’t necessarily have to go in the order of the months, though. In fact, I want to note that when you download the bundle, they will not be organized by month. They will be in alphabetical order. I suppose you could totally rearrange them and put them in order by month and even put them in separate folders by month. On the Tied 2 Teaching page, it has a breakdown of which challenges go in which month. My daughter and I just perused through all of the activities to find one that she was interested in doing (and I already had the supplies for). We were fine with them not being organized by month.
Each of the challenges includes a “close reading”, which I think is a great way for my 5th grader to learn how to really study a piece of work that she is reading. Close reading, in case you don’t know, is “the careful, sustained interpretation of a brief passage of a text” (according to wikipedia). Another source says it is a “thoughtful, critical analysis of a text that focuses on significant details or patterns in order to develop a deep, precise understanding of the text’s form, craft, meanings, etc. It is a key requirement of the Common Core State Standards and directs the reader’s attention to the text itself.”
In other words, it is reading something and then carefully dissecting it by answering specific answers about it. My daughter didn’t necessarily think it was fun, but as a parent, I loved it. And then after she did that, she got to do the fun part of the challenge, so it was fine. :)
In addition to the close reading page, there are other pages that allow the student to write down ideas about the challenge, as well as reactions to how the challenge went when they tried it.
Index Card Skyscraper STEM
One of the challenges we chose to do was all about skyscrapers. My daughter read an informational page about skyscrapers and learned the challenges with building skyscrapers super tall. She also learned where the tallest skyscraper is now, where it used to be, and where it will be when the newest one is finished being built. She learned that in exceedingly tall skyscrapers, there has to be a “sky lobby” where passengers have to change elevators. This is because elevator cables can only be so long before they won’t sustain the weight of the elevator (and passengers).
After reading the passage, she answered her close reading questions.
Then, she was challenged to build the tallest skyscraper she can build using only index cards. And, because I thought it would be fun, I videoed the last few minutes of her building it and then sped up the video.
It was fun watching her make this. She tried a couple of different ways before deciding on the final design.
I think this is a fun curriculum that helps kids think in a different way, as STEM activities are intended to do. It reminds me a lot of activities you would see at Destination Imagination, if you’re familiar with that.
I think it would be more fun in a group setting. So maybe get a group of kids together to do it or offer it up as a class at a local homeschool co-op or tutorial?
If you want to see what challenges other TOS Crew reviewers did with this curriculum, click the banner below.