S.T.E.A.M. CREW Activities at Glenwood Landing School

S.T.E.A.M. Activities Compliment the C.R.E.W. Festival at Glenwood Landing School

To coincide with the month-long C.R.E.W. (Curious Readers, Enthusiastic Writers) festival at Glenwood Landing, students in S.T.E.A.M recess clubs, under the direction of Ms. Adrien Kaye, participated in a number of exciting, hands-on activities related to the C.R.E.W. theme, “The Sport of Reading and Writing.”  More specifically, students across all grade levels were focused on the structure and function of chair lifts and were asked to work collaboratively to design solutions to specific problems. S.T.E.A.M. is an integrated and interdisciplinary field that stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

Fourth and fifth graders were challenged to use classroom materials to design and create a chair lift system to safely transport a passenger across a mountain like a skier in the Olympics! The criteria and constraints included the following:

  • The device must safely transport an item from the start area to a box in the finish area a certain distance away
  • The operator can only load, touch, and handle the device from the start and end areas
  • The cargo item cannot fall out of the device or touch the ground before it reaches the box in the finish area

You could see the excitement on the children’s faces as classroom materials such as paper towel tubes, construction paper, string, plastic cups, wooden rulers, plastic binder clips, paper clips, and straws were constructed into operating chair lift systems that could move and lift objects over imaginary mountains. With creativity and perseverance, the children met the challenges and criteria listed above and successfully designed different chair lift systems tailored to their own imaginations (see photos below). It was easy to envision how an Olympic skier could get on one of the chair lifts and ride it to the top of a mountain to ultimately ski down with precision to win a gold medal!

Stepping away from the whole system, and focusing more on chair design, our younger students tackled challenges of their own related to our chair lift theme.  Kindergarten and first grade students worked hard to plan and build a chair out of classroom materials that would safely transport a ping pong ball “passenger” across our class pulley.  To up the ante for our second and third grade students, not only did the chair need to carry the passengers up an inclined pulley, but the children had to consider ways to carry heavier parents (golf balls), along with their children (ping pong balls) in their constructed chairs. 

“The children approached the challenges with open minds and were eager to bring their ideas to life.  After our first club session, students were motivated to get back into the lab to continue their work; many even asked for additional sessions to continue improving and refining their designs.  Our elementary engineers embodied the district’s Shared Value Outcomes and truly committed to the engineering design process, as well as their partners and the problems at hand.”

Many thanks to Ms. Adrien Kaye for developing fun and challenging S.T.E.A.M. activities that revolved around the C.R.E.W. theme, and to Mrs. Ana Agon for volunteering her time to support the children of Glenwood Landing and their creative efforts. Clearly, these students engaged in collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and listening skills to work together to create incredible ski lift systems that all deserve a medal! The month-long C.R.E.W. festival at Glenwood Landing School reinforces reading and writing skills by continuing to focus on genres including poetry, fairytales, non-fiction, personal narratives, biographies, memoirs, and picture books. During C.R.E.W., students are challenged to read more books than the year before and participate in interdisciplinary activities supporting The Sport of Reading and Writing” theme, in honor of the upcoming Olympics. Three cheers to all!

Photo Caption: Article and photos by Shelly Newman with assistance from Elementary S.T.E.A.M. teacher, Adrien Kaye.   


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