Monday, June 8, 2015

The 3 Little Pigs- STEM Challenge!!


Hi friends! I'm here today to share about a quick, easy, and FUN experiment that I recently did with my first graders. This experiment incorporated all of the elements of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) and was such a hit with my kiddos too: 

We had just finished reading different versions of "The 3 Little Pigs," and my team came up with this quick and easy STEM experiment that would be perfect to display at our upcoming Open House. Each kiddo got to build a house for their "little pig." The house needed to be able to withstand the "big bad wolf blow dryer," and not fall down! Here are the materials that we used: 



We bought Dots candy, and toothpicks at The 99 Cent store. Each student received a ziploc bag with 12 Dots to build their house. I let them have an unlimited supply of toothpicks, but they could not have more than 12 Dots for their house. It also definitely helped to have the Dots pre divided out into the baggies for the kiddos. My teammate suggested this, and it made the experiment go really smoothly that each kiddo had their own bag of supplies. Before we started, we taped their pigs down onto the paper plates so that it looked like it was standing up! We used the Three Little Pigs Clip Art from Scrappin Doodles for our pigs. We just printed the pigs on pink card stock so that they were sturdy enough to stand up. 
After their pig was secured, the kiddos got to work on their houses! 

The next part of our experiment would be to "test" the houses to see if the "big bad wolf blow dryer" could blow their houses down. I kept this a surprise from my kiddos until the last second. They were so excited when I pulled out the blow dryer with the wolf mask taped on it: 


One of my teammates printed the mask and laminated it so that we could use it. There are TONS of different wolf masks to print on the internet! I am so sorry that I don't have the exact one that we used, but the internet is full of fun choices! Just google "printable wolf mask" and see what pops up! 

Here's what the "wolf" looked like trying to blow down the houses:

While my students were waiting for their house to be tested, they worked on their recording sheets. I didn't create a worksheet template for them. I wanted these to be totally created by them. I gave them guidelines: I wanted them to draw a before and after picture of their house. I also wanted them to count the "faces" and "vertices" of their house, since we had been studying this in Math. And finally, they had to make a prediction about what they thought would happen to their house. Here's an example: 



I displayed our houses and lab sheets in my classroom during Open House using these signs to explain our experiment: 



You can download a FREE copy of the signs by clicking on the image below: 

I hope that you enjoy doing this STEM activity with your students! Please feel free to email me with any comments or suggestions. :) 





27 comments:

  1. Wow! I can't wait to do this next year. Thank you for sharing. Are you required to do STEM projects by your district? I'm so curious about STEM, especially since so many of the activities I do with my firsties are STEM or partial STEM.

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    1. Hi Rachel!
      I am not required to do STEM, but we definitely find that a lot of the activities that we do with our first graders already are STEM based. Many of the districts in my area are very focused on STEM, and it is becoming quite the new "buzz word!"

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  2. This is wonderful; I can't wait to use is next school year! Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Love this. Can't wait to use it with my kiddos next year! I know they will love it. Thanks so much for sharing!

    ~Laura
    Luv My Kinders

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  4. What a great idea!! Thanks so much for sharing:)

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  5. I am so excited to try this!!! Thank you for sharing.
    My Fabulous Class

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  6. Wow! This is an amazing idea! I'll definitely try this soon! We still have 3 weeks left, so I'm sure we can squeeze this in our schedule. Thanks!
    Ilinca from GrumpyDumpling

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  7. I'm going to try this with my kinders this next year. Love it!

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  8. How long did you give the kids to build the houses?

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  9. I absolutely love this idea and the free resources you offered! Would you be able to adjust the first sign to S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and email it to me?

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  10. Cannot even wait to do this activity! Love it Kelly! Thanks for sharing! xxoo
    Diane

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  11. Thank you for sharing! I love it and plan to use it next week! I am wondering if I can purchase or get a copy of the signs you made but a version I can edit. Thank you again! Karen

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  12. Planning on using your STEM activity tomorrow! I know the kids will LOVE it! Thank YOU!

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  13. This is wonderful! I love it. Thank you for sharing!

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  14. This is wonderful! I love it. Thank you for sharing!

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  15. Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for sharing this great activity! I can't wait to try it. I was wondering how big are the paper pigs you gave the children to fit inside the house?

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  16. This is my first year as a teacher at a STEM charter school and can't wait to use this! I teach kindergarten and was wondering how you would adapt this to k with the recording sheet part? Have them draw the shapes they see in their house maybe? Thanks for your help.

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    1. Hi Rachel,
      I recently did this lesson with my Kindergarteners. It went really well. I had them complete only the after part of the planning sheet. They did the faces and vertices since we had done the lesson earlier in the year so I just did a quick review. It all depends on what time of year you teach this lesson. Maybe you can have them count and record the squares and triangles. Good luck!

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  17. I saw your 3 Little Pigs Challenge and thought it looked like a great STEM activity. When I tried it out I had trouble with the DOTS being too heavy for the hairdryer to blow over. Have you had any problems like this? Do you have any suggestions on how to structure this activity so there are some successful houses and some that are blown over?
    Thank you, Bridget

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  18. Hi Bridget, it really was a fun project. I got lucky, some of the houses blew down even with the dots. I had friends with really powerful blowdryers. I would suggest to give the children marshmallows (open them to dry out a little first) and dots to build with. The marshmallows will definitely blow over. Using different materials will allow great discussions after. Hope this helps and it goes well.

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  19. This looks like an awesome project, and I plan to adapt it for my preschool science class. I predict that my director will not okay using candy as a building material, so I may use little balls of playdough and cut-up colored straws instead. I'd love to hear whether kids eating their materials was a problem for anyone!

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    1. Did you end up using the playdough? Did it work well? I'm searching for an alternative to candy as well. So many allergies in one of my classes, including corn allergies, so it's very difficult to find any gummy candies that would work. Even "corn syrup free" varieties apparently use corn starch in the molding process and may contain trace amounts. Ugh.

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  20. Oh -- I probably won't be allowed to use a hair dryer either, but I have will simply attach the wolf mask to my fireplace bellows -- I bet the kids will get a kick out of using those!!

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  21. Thank you for sharing such a creactive and meaningful idea!

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