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3rd Graders and Their Families Were Busy with STEM Projects

Third graders and their families participated in two recent very hands-on STEM challenges at Key. 

The first was an engineering design challenge which had third graders showing off their understanding of forces, motion and simple machines as they built and tested balloon-powered cars for an audience of appreciative family and friends. The children first built working cars with wheel and axle assemblies in Maker Tech using nearly all recycled materials. This upfront work required the students to build multiple iterations of their cars and most managed to triple their distance from first to final design. They then combined that engineering work with what they had been learning in science during a unit on force and motion and experimented with how different forces affect the motion of their car.

Forces and motion have been a focus in Science class and Maker Tech for the third graders as they have been learning about magnets and how two objects don’t need to touch to be affected by forces. The students successfully built miniature electromagnets and imagined how electromagnets could be used to solve problems in daily life.

A week later, a math-based project brought students and parents together again to build dodecahedrons and examine the five regular polyhedrons—tetrahedrons, cubes, octahedrons, dodecahedrons, and icosahedrons—for patterns. They counted and recorded the number of faces, edges and vertices in each shape and, in doing so, discovered Euler's formula (faces + vertices - 2 = edges).