Last week our theme for maker morning was Engineering and it was also my theme for our weekly Science Lab. This post will be a combination of the two because the two programs were similar and I feel I would repeat myself if I separated the two. Maker morning is a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) based learning environment open for 2nd grade through 9th graders. Each week has a theme and we try to have three or four activities that cater to that wide range of ages. This is collaborative program with the teen department and children’s department and I work on it with one of library director’s. The Science lab is for pre-school through 6th grade.
Engineering for Kids!
I started the Science Lab program with Rosie Revere, Engineer and an explanation of what an engineer is. I also made sure that each of the kid knows (and this was part of the book too) that it is okay to not get it right the first time and an engineer is constantly learning from his or her mistakes.
This was a super simple idea: Cups! We just had a bunch of Solo cups available and they could do what they want with them. They had a lot of fun making super tall towers and structures. We had all ages (pre-school through my high school volunteers) interested in this activity. This was also a good project that taught teamwork.
Balloon Powered Lego Car
The rules were simple: create a Lego car that was powered by a balloon. Eventually this one became part of the cup activity and we were trying to make cars powerful enough to knock over the huge cup tower. A lot of the parents got really into this activity and loved the challenge of knocking over the cups.
I have done this activity from Happy Hooligans and both times it was a success. This was great to have for both programs because of big age ranges. A lot of the younger kids enjoyed this activity and really got into the building. The prep work for this one does take same time as you need to cut out the construction squares and then cut the slots into them.
This is no way a new idea and I have seen it on pinterest all over the place but it was still a hit (and cheap!). I think I first saw the pin from Deceptively Educational. This station had a challenge: to get your tower 8 inches high! We had two kids actually complete the assignment.
and my favorite… Magnetic Marble Run!
So I have done this idea before just on a piece of plywood and taping toilet paper rolls on, similar to this marble run by Lemon Lime Adventures. I wanted to take it a step further and make it more science-y be creating a magnetic board. I started with a huge piece of plywood (I didn’t want the marble run to be too easy!) and painted it with Rust-Oleum Magnetic paint. Here is where I went wrong: for the huge piece of board I have I should have used two cans of the paint. Instead I was forced to stretch it thin and because of that it was very weak (hence the duct tape in the pictures). I then spray painted over the black magnetic paint with a metallic paint so that it looked more magnetic. The next part was an experiment in itself: I needed to make the pool noodles magnetic. First, I cut them in half and then in section to make the track part of the marble run. I learned that the basic stick on magnets don’t work because a) they don’t stick on and b) definitely not strong enough. I also bought these huge heavy magnets but they were way too heavy. The ones that seemed to work (and glue on) the best were the Neodymium Magnets. Since the board itself wasn’t strong enough we did end up having to duct tape on many of the tracks.
It still worked great and was a huge hit! It definitely required team work because the board was so big and multiple kids wanted to work on it at once.
All of these programs were very well received by both the kids and parents!