Reflecting on STEM

When Parker students work together in teams to solve engineering challenges, that’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).  If you add in the arts, it makes IMG_1603STEAM.  And if you also add in reflection and peer critique, you get crucial assessment and feedback.  Voila!  In-depth, iterative, analytical learning that kids love.

This spring, students were designing water wheels, marble mazes, paper towers and rockets, just to name a few.  The 4-5’s designed wind turbines.  They learned about wind power and studied the designs of real turbines, then tried their own designs.  They IMG_0403determined “The Best Wind Turbine Blades” and drew artwork labeled to show the shape and angle of the blades.

In reflecting on the project, here is what Kate Perry, our science teacher asked the kids, and here are a few of their responses:

Turbine creative ideas and collaboration led to magnificent designs.  I’d like you to take a moment to tell me what you learned and how you felt it went.

Where does the energy for wind turbines come from?IMG_0401

  • The wind pushes the blades and they spin.
  • The design of the blades helps determine how much wind it catches to make the blades spin.
  • The wind.  But in this experiment a fan on medium capacity.

Why is wind energy good?

  • Because it does not polute the air.
  • It’s good because the wind is renewable and eco-friendly.

Why might wind energy be bad?

  • It might be bad because the turbines take a lot of money and land and some places can’t afford them.
  • It doesn’t make that much energy compared to other resources.

While designing your ideal blades, what features did you want to include and why?IMG_0400

  • They needed to be light so the wind could carry them around.  There needs to be a lot of blades.  They needed to have something to catch the wind, and be big so the wind has more surface to push.
  • My group’s blades were the shape of a fan blade.  We thought it would be a good idea because the fan’s blades can go very fast.

Describe any problems your group faced.  How did you work through the problems?

  • We had a problem where the glue on one blade made it heavier, so we put paper clips on the other ones.
  • We faced some disagreements and to get through them we combined all of our ideas.
  • Our wind turbine wasn’t moving.  We figured it out by turning the blades in different angles.