Tuesday, 4 April 2017

STEM with dinosaurs!

It's getting to the end of term and we are beginning to finish up our dinosaur project. The children have been investigating and representing their understandings through role play. Last week we worked together to construct a dinosaur to show our understandings about dinosaurs. First we looked at some books and the children drew a dinosaur of their choice.

As a class we agreed to create a T-Rex as it was the most popular. We discussed its features: small arms, big legs, sharp teeth, scaly skin. 
First we created the scaly looking skin of the T-Rex using bubble wrap and paint...
The next day we began construction, using our drawings as a plan....
We have been learning about concepts about measurement in our play and we brought this into our construction activity as the children had to compare boxes and work out how to stack them from the largest to the smallest.  
We also talked about how big a real T-Rex would be and that we couldn't make our one the real size. We wondered if we could measure it and find out how big it would be in real life. So went out on the deck with a metre ruler and marked it out to 14m (according to the information in our book). 
The children used sticky tape dispensers and masking tape to assemble the boxes into a rou dinosaur shape. They had to work out how to use the dispenser and tear tape. They also trialled various ways of placing the tape to fix the boxes in place. We discovered the tail was not staying on and had to rethink our design and use of the tape. 

When it was done, the T-Rex was moved into the dinosaur museum for display. 

What does STEM mean? STEM is an educational program that combines the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
This link has a short video which explains in more detail:

We try to incorporate STEM into our free play and our project based learning. In Prep, 'real world' problems solving usually tends to be centred around the children's play experiences (eg. building with blocks or Lego). Our dinosaur project was initially driven as a scientific investigation, We used digital technology to support our research and documenting (taking photographs). Our role play then began to include other technologies as we explored the tools and devices paleontologists might use. Our culminating project constructing the T-Rex then combined the elements of design, math, science  and engineering. It provided a context for applying those skills and concepts in a meaningful way.

The more connections children can make between fields of study and to the real world, the deeper and more meaningful learning will be. 

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