My STEM Units

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

STEM Club Field Trip

What do you get when you mix a hydrologist, geologist, ecologist, botanist, archaeologist, field tech, and 21 eager STEM Club students?

Best. field. trip. ever!

I confess.  This is a teaser blog post. My STEM Club kids are working hard to publish their website, but I wanted to share their field trip first.

All year, I have set a firm focus on the rural and water system project.  I knew that I wanted my STEM Club kiddos to produce a website and a 3D model of the pipeline as the performance tasks.  I backwards designed the entire STEM Club curriculum from those endpoints. 

What did the students learn?

  • simple machines (such as pulleys)
  • renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy
  • water cycle
  • electricity circuits

  • create a website (weebly)
  • scan QR codes
  • Internet research

  • historical structures
  • built structures
  • built pipeline

  • kept balance sheet for their "company" with cost of materials and accounts receivable
  • computed cost of materials
  • measured pipeline
Social Studies
  • bodies of water
  • reading topographical maps
  • orienteering

A little background:

A number of communities on the reservation have been experiencing problems with their water supply in the last few decades.  The water table has been dropping and those communities have no fresh drinking water.  The tribe applied for water rights to the river which runs through the reservation.  After 20 years of asking Washington for water rights, they were approved.  The tribe will be building a dam, pipeline, and water treatment plants.  The dam is due to be finished in 2021, which just so happens to be when my 5th graders will graduate high school and be ready for a career.

In STEM Club meetings, my students broke themselves into groups of interest to them; hydrology, ecology, and dam construction. After research on the Internet, they had more questions than they did before!  They asked to speak with the tribal hydrologist.  One 3rd grader took it upon himself to find her number and call her office for a phone interview. 

She came and answered their questions and taught them how to test water samples.  They used a pH scale and tested various samples of water, coffee, soda, milk, and vinegar. 

As they researched other dams, they generated more questions regarding the wildlife and cultural treasures.  They asked if we could go to the proposed dam site and speak with other specialists.  And so we did.

My STEM Club students are currently putting the finishing touches on their website.  Look for their official launch, coming soon. 

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