Inventions and Engineering – Last Day!

Today we had the opportunity to visit the class Story to Stage and see the amazing play they have been learning/performing these last few weeks at SA. We also used scientific principles and some sweet ingredients to create our own flavors of ice cream!  It was a fun experiment and a sweet treat! We had just enough time for one more engineering activity.  Students worked in teams to create a car out of given materials.  It’s called a puff mobile because it works by puffing air at it to get it moving.  Students had a great time racing their puff mobiles.

You should have received an email from your child’s homeroom teacher with their evaluation as well as a link to the Virtual Open House. Students have worked hard these past few weeks at Summer Academy, but hopefully had a lot of fun too.  They have been fantastic team members, problem solvers, engineers, and inventors.  Thanks for an awesome few weeks!  We hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer!

Inventions & Engineering – Day 12

Today we set up all of our inventions and had a mini-open house for all of the other Inventions and Engineering classes. It was fun for the kids to take pride in their work and see the creative ideas of their classmates.

We had the opportunity to utilize some power from the sun while we used our solar ovens to cook s’mores.  Students enjoyed eating their finished product. 🙂 The students also had fun using some of what they learned about structures and engineering to create dot towers!

Tomorrow is our last day– we will fill it with fun and of course, some creative engineering!

Inventions & Engineering – Day 11

Today, students continued to complete their inventions and display posters. It has been great to see many of them persevere in this task.  Taking an idea and creating a model of it, can be challenging.  There are many interesting inventions and we look forward to sharing them with you via our “virtual open house.”

We also gave the students the challenge of protecting an egg in an activity called “Design a Package that Works.” Their package has to pass several tests: books stacking on it, books falling on it, falling down a flight of stairs, and even the weight of a teacher! Ask your child how far their package made it!

Important Reminders:

– All inventions must be complete and at school tomorrow (Wednesday, June 30th). 

– Our final day of Summer Academy is Thursday, July 1st, normal dismissal time of 12:00pm. Please be sure to call the SA office if your child is going to be absent. 

Inventions & Engineering – Days 9 and 10

Over the last few days, students have rotated through our four classrooms and explored, problem solved and created in four different activities:

1. Working with an engineering partner, students in Mrs. Lyttle’s class were given the task of constructing the tallest free-standing spaghetti structure that would support a marshmallow, using 20 pieces of spaghetti, 3 feet of string, and 3 feet of masking tape.  They were given 20 minutes to design and construct.  After measuring and comparing each other’s structures, we discussed the characteristics and building techniques that made the structures the strongest. Students learned how engineers collaborate to design, test, and then improve on their ideas.  

2. Mr. Pluim guided students as they designed and tested their film canister rockets. Each student needed to identify which ratio of water to air created the largest explosion, eventually using it to blast off their rocket. Students are being exposed to many activities during which they can utilize the Design process. 

3. Mrs. Leiser reviewed the Engineering Design Process with students. This time their challenge was to design a boat with given materials to hold the most penny passengers as possible. With this challenge, students chose which materials would work best for their design and built a boat. Students worked hard with their partners to make a boat that would float. Once they had a floating boat, students were very motivated to keep making it better, so it could hold more and more penny passengers.

4. Students learned about structural engineering with Mrs. Pluim.  We looked at different shapes and their strengths. We specifically learned about bridges: the internal and external forces they need to be prepared to sustain, as well as types of bridges and their pros and cons. Then students were given a challenge of building their own bridges and testing their strength using pennies.  It was a fun challenge, and one that allowed students to re-visit the design process as they designed, created and tested, and then went back to make their structure better. We have true engineers in the making!

We will continue to have a little bit more work time on our inventions. Students should have the their invention complete by Wednesday. We have just a few more days to cram in all the learning and fun we can!

Inventions & Engineering – Day 8

Today we had a virtual field trip to Target Field.  It was so interesting to learn about all of the ways they have made the stadium environmentally conscious and sustainable. Ask your student if they remember what happens to the rain water that is collected? And what happens to the trash? It’s very cool to see the handiwork of many engineers in a stadium so close to home.

The other parts of our day were spent working on inventions.  It’s so fun to watch these kids design and create something they are excited about.  They are also working on a poster to display next to their invention for the virtual open house. 

If your child hasn’t finished their invention after today, that is okay.  We have some time built into our days next Tuesday and Wednesday so the kids can place their finishing touches on these creations. It is also okay if they prefer to keep working on it at home!

Inventions and Engineering- Day 7

Over the last few days, students have rotated through our four classrooms and explored, problem solved, and created in four different activities:

1. While in Mrs. Lyttle’s class, students learned about the sun as a renewable energy resource.  We learned about how the energy from the sun can be used to power many things from solar powered calculators to using solar panels to generate electricity.  We then used our creative, critical thinking skills to come up with ideas of new ways to use the sun’s energy.  Finally, students constructed their own solar ovens which will use the energy from the sun to cook s’mores! (Hopefully on a sunny day next week)

2.  In Mrs. Leiser’s class students had fun with Ozobots. These little robots read color codes and travel paths created by students. Working in groups, students experimented with light shows, speed codes, direction codes, and cool move codes. Some groups even added challenges or set up obstacles in their Ozobot playgrounds!  

3. Mrs. Pluim introduced the students to the world of electrical engineering.  After a lesson on electric circuits, the students had the opportunity to design, build and test their own circuit.  Then they explored conductivity by testing different materials in their circuit. Using simple materials students were able to understand the basics of this category of science.

4. With Mr. Pluim, students had the opportunity to explore the world of littleBits, a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that empower you to invent anything, from your own remote controlled car, to a smart home device. The Bits snap together with magnets, no soldering, no wiring, no programming needed. These may also be included in the students’ inventions to add a working element to even the most basic model.

Important Reminders:

–      For tomorrow’s extended day, we will be staying at school. We will have a virtual field trip to Target Field and learn about all the cool ways they designed the stadium in an environmentally conscious way.   Students will need to bring a bag lunch unless they ordered one from school.  Students will also have an invention work day for part of the day on Thursday. They need to have their supplies at school so they can utilize this time.

Inventions and Engineering – Days 5 & 6

We all had such fun trips to The Works Museum. The students were able to explore in the museum area– many loved the k’nex race car exhibit, the censor maze, and the conveyor belt and of course making their very own “Wigglebot”. Here are just a couple of photos of our adventures! (We hope to share a slide show of more photos from SA as part of our culminating virtual open house, so there will be more to come!)

Inventions and Engineering – End of Week One

We had a great first week of Summer Academy! We have enjoyed getting to know each student and his/her unique talents and personality.

You should have received a sheet about your child’s invention project. Please take some time in the next few days to go over your child’s choice of invention and start collecting materials for their model. The invention work day is Thursday, June 24th. Students can store materials in the classroom if you choose to send materials before that day.

Mr. and Mrs. Pluim’s classes will go to The Works Museum on Monday, June 21st.  Please have your child wear their SA t-shirt again this day!  

Mrs. Lyttle’s and Mrs, Leiser’s classes will go to The Works Museum on Tuesday, June 22nd.  Please have your child wear their SA t-shirt again this day!  

Enjoy your weekend!  See you next week!

Inventions and Engineering – Day 3

Today all classes had fun visiting The Bakken Museum. The Bakken Museum is a place that “inspires a passion for innovation by exploring the potential for science, technology, and the humanities to make the world a better place.”  We explored many fun exhibits featuring electricity and how it lights up an entire city, seeing how a crank generator works, as well as playing a theremin, the very first electronic musical instrument.  We were able to “get a shock from a 100-year-old electricity machine, experience the world of Mary Shelley and her novel Frankenstein with experiments and an immersive object theater, wire a tiny city and light up the Foshay Tower, and test out some of Ben Franklin’s favorite static electricity experiments.”

Today we also spent time at school talking about our big invention project. We talked about the design process and how inventors/engineers notice a problem or something they want to improve in the world around them.  Then they brainstorm solutions to the problem, plan/design, create and then test it out.  You should have received (or will receive soon) a sheet with some information about your child’s idea, and the supplies they might need. We will have an invention work day on Thursday, June 24th, so that is when their supplies will be needed at school. We can store supplies at school whenever you have them ready!

Inventions and Engineering – Day 2

Wow! We’ve been busy! Students are already enthusiastic about the variety of fun, engaging, hands-on activities they get to experience each day. Each student is assigned a specific homeroom teacher. Students begin and end their days with their homeroom class. On some days, students rotate to experience a new activity with one of the other Inventions and Engineering teachers. Over the course of the 2½ weeks, all students will work with each of the teachers and experience a variety of activities and challenges. By the end of the week, students will have rotated through our four classrooms and explored, problem solved, and created in four different activities:

1. Students were challenged by Mrs. Lyttle to create cause-and-effect contraptions based off of the work of Rube Goldberg. Goldberg’s contraptions were made using an elaborate set of arms, wheels, gears, handles, cups and rods, and they were put in motion by balls, dominoes, and other things.  These contraptions take a simple task and make it extraordinarily complicated.  Students had to use their previous knowledge of simple machines as well as utilize their creativity to work in small groups and as a class to create a cause and effect chain reaction.  This is a very fun activity that gets students thinking, planning, building, and creating together.

2. Mr. Pluim led the students to construct their own amusement park rides with many different materials. This activity challenged students to apply their knowledge of simple machines as well as to practice building a model of something and testing how it works. After testing their models, students were also encouraged to make their rides better. This is an important part of the engineering process, to test, and to fix and make better.

3. Students explored sound with musical instruments with Mrs. Leiser. After learning a little about sound, students used the Engineering Design Process to create musical instruments. The key ideas of the Engineering Design Process are Explore, Design, Create, Try It Out, and Make It Better. Students made an ear harp, a sound sandwich, and shakers, and were encouraged to experiment with pitch for all instruments.

4. Mrs. Pluim led students in 2 main tasks. First, students were exposed to all of the different types and categories of engineering—from electrical engineers to environmental engineers, civil engineers to biomedical engineers—students now know there are many ways to apply their excitement for the design process! Second, we spent time learning about wind as a renewable energy source. After discovering how one inventor made improvements to wind turbines, we constructed our own models of wind turbines. Students were then encouraged to test the model and think about how they could make it better.

Reminders: Tomorrow, THURSDAY, is both an extended day (8:00am-2:30pm) and a field trip day for all students. Students must wear their Summer Academy T-shirt. Students will receive a bag lunch from school, and we will eat at school before/after our field trip.  Part of the day Thursday will be spent at The Bakken museum and part of the day we will start discussing our inventions project.  Please be on the lookout for a note that will be coming home on Thursday explaining this important project to you!