October was the first month that the STEAM room opened for the children to get their opportunity to explore the room. It was a slow start with the Jewish holidays taking up half of the week. There was still tons of exploring and creative play taking place for the children that did have their turn. This post is a great place to see and read all the different things that a lot of the groups worked on. Some were similar in nature, whether it was looking at the tools and trying them out or coming up with an idea as a group and creating something from their imaginations. Some things the children did were different in just what they were actually doing or creating. Here are a few of those experiences that I wanted should share.
I was donated a microwave for the children to do what they wanted with it. The Peelim class was the first to get an opportunity to observe it. I left it on the big table in the room, so as they walked in they noticed it. At first they walked around it and inspected it curiously. They opened the door and looked inside. They were familiar with what it was and one knew it was called a "microwave." They played with it, and put yellow marbles inside and called it "mashed potatoes". One of the children, while inspecting, noticed the screws on the microwave.
"What do we need for that?" I asked looking at the screw with them.
"Tools." he replied.
I brought over a tool box and showed them the tools inside. We saw hammers and different screw drivers. One of the children knew that we needed screwdrivers. So we looked at the difference between the two different types of screwdrivers and examined the screw to see which screwdriver would be needed. The decision was made and they started taking the visible screws out. It wasn't many screws later until their focus changed to the other tools in the box. They were taking the hammers and banging it on the tables. So instead of letting them bang on the tables I gave them wooden stumps and nails to hammer in. I showed them how to hold a nail and hammer it in. They all got the chance to hammer nails in before their time was up.
There is a lot of information that kids get when experimenting with marble runs, such as the basics in Physics and Engineering. It happens in such a natural way with their play that people overlook that they are experimenting with the basics in physics. The three children already were discussing wanting to make a marble run while walking to the STEAM room. When we arrived they started laying the tubes on the floor as I pulled out a jar of balls for them. Their ramps started off flat but the realization came quick to them that the balls would not go through the tubes when laid out flat on the ground. They had to push them with some force to make the balls reach the end. One of the children then leaned a tube on a table and noticed that the balls rolled faster and easier than laying it on the floor.
The excitement led them to build two separate "tunnels" and they decided to race the balls down both sets. One child would watch to see which ball would hit the wall first, and that one was declared the winner of the race. Balls were scattered all over the place and one child had an idea to contain them when they came out of the "tunnel." He took two semi-circle wooden pieces and created an enclosed area to capture all the balls and not have them spread around. Their first visit ended shortly after that.
I needed to bring them back after that for them to experiment more with the ramps they were making. They returned back to the STEAM room and continued where they left off. I wanted to see if they were understanding the basic concepts they were learning.
"How can we make the balls go faster down the tubes?" I asked
"If we make them higher they will go down faster and come out at the end faster." one replied.
So we looked around the room at how we could make our tunnel higher. We noticed that we could use chairs and stack them on top of each other to make taller. We started with one chair to see if there was a difference with how fast they were rolling down. The we stacked more chairs until we were five chairs high. We looked at how fast they were going from the new height we created compared to the original table height. They visually couldsee that the balls were coming out slower than when stacked up high on the five chairs. They were understanding that the higher that something falls, the faster the object will go. With this, we can see that the children were understanding these very basic concepts of physics -- not through any lessons, but through their experimenting with play.
Taking Apart the Microwave
The children that came from the Zayteem room picked right up where the children from the Peelim class had left off with the microwave. Right away they noticed the microwave and were really interested in it. I had explained to them that another class was here and they were using the tools to remove the screws on the microwave. The children were curious and wanted to know why they were taking the screw out, to which I could only say,
"Maybe they wanted to know what was inside."
That sparked an interest in the three children that were in the room. The tools were already on the table, ready for them to use. They knew what tools were needed so I showed them that there were two different types of screwdrivers that they could use. We looked around the microwave at where the screws were to see which screwdriver would be the best to use. One child noticed that the screws had an 'X" shape on the them and that the pointy screwdriver would be best. He found this out from experimenting with the flat and the pointy tipped screwdrivers.
As more parts were dissected from the microwave, the more interested they were at figuring out where all of the wires were connected to and what gadgets were inside. It was like a huge puzzle for them. They really started paying attention to what screws were attached to and what things were connecting to each other. As one child was unscrewing some screws another noticed that this big heavy piece was attached to the screws he was undoing. It's small observations like this, that show children the direct effect of what the screws were doing to specific parts. When all the screws were removed, the piece fell with a heavy thud.
By the end of their time, they had gutted and taken apart most of the microwave. They had also been able to get plenty of experience in using the tools in the class which is great motor skills for the kids to be developing. Their excitement to take apart the microwave gave them the opportunity to see the technology inside and the engineering it takes it take to construct a very common household item that the they are familiar with. Even though they don't understand what everything does or how it operates, it still encourages and sparks ideas to create their own pieces of technology with their imagination.
The children came in very excited to come to the STEAM room for their first time. There was lots to look at for the children of the Oval class. They instantly went right to the bamboo and admired at how long and big the pieces were. As a group they decided they wanted to make a stage to perform music on. Placing the bamboo down they noticed that the surface was not good enough or stable enough for all of them to stand on. They found and placed some square wooden blocks on the floor and deemed it their stage. They now just needed instruments to play. They walked around and looked at items all around the room, testing to see how they sounded. When they came to the Styrofoam it made a loud drum like sound. They put on a short performance of songs when I asked them,
"Could we make a real instrument with something? Could we use this bamboo?"
We brought over a big piece of bamboo. We looked at it carefully, noticing how it felt, questioning what is inside bamboo and how we could open it to find out? The first child suggested using a knife to cut the bamboo open. We didn't have a knife, so I asked,
"What else could we use?"
Another child said we needed tools. We grabbed the tool box and looked to see what a good tool would be. A child pulled out a screwdriver to poke and hit the bamboo but it didn't open. Another child took out a hammer and started hitting it hard. It didn't break or even split the bamboo. They all realized the bamboo is stronger and harder than what they had probably expected it to be.
I showed them a saw asked them, "What do we do with this?" They knew we should use the saw to cut the bamboo open. Three children held one end of the bamboo. Another helped to cut a piece. We looked inside and there was nothing but a hole. Everyone got a chance to help cut a piece. One child clacked the two pieces together and noticed the sound. They said it was an instrument and brought it back to their class to use it for their band time.