The kids are at a new school this year as part of a pilot Talented and Gifted program for the lower elementary. It's been a adjustment on various levels, but Davin and Abby are pretty go-with-the-flow kids, so it has been fairly smooth. They love their teachers and are making friends. The curriculum is a little different but they are settling into things pretty well.
Davin's class has been working on STEM projects, which is a new experience for us. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics. These kinds of things are right up Davin's alley - he loves them! The first project had very simple instructions: Create anything you like out of unsharpened pencils.
He started brainstorming. Race car? Helicopter? In the end we decided on a suspension bridge. Michigan has quite a famous suspension bridge, the Mackinac Bridge:
We have a soft spot for this bridge, since it marks the halfway point when we drive "Up North" to visit Andy's family. "Halfway" is about 5.5-6 hours of driving, by the way...so understandably, we are happy for a chance to get out of the car and stretch our legs a bit! :)
We spent a bit of time learning about suspension bridge engineering and physics. This website was really helpful to us as we learned how they work and the names of the various parts.
We then made a list of supplies for our own bridge and headed to our local Michaels! We needed:
Thin Balsa wood for the platform
Paint (I have plenty of craft paint, but Davin wanted to pick out his own special color)
Pencils (which we already had, leftover from school supply shopping)
We got home and measured the lengths we needed. Thankfully, Balsa wood is very thin and can be cut with normal scissors. The pencils, however, took a little more muscle to cut, but eventually we got everything to the right length. I used a Crop-A-Dile to punch holes in the balsa wood for the string. Davin did a great job painting his pieces, while I used a hot glue gun to put together the two towers with pencils and popsicle sticks.
We then strung the black string (embroidery floss) through the holes and over the tops of the towers. I cut slits in the erasers at the tops of the pencils as anchors for the string. Once everything was dry, Davin had to test it out with a few of his Hot Wheels cars.
Everything worked great! The next day he carefully and oh so proudly carried it on the bus and delivered it to school. He has a new STEM project to work on, this time the assignment is to make anything he likes using toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls. He's already cooking on ideas, and I am sure will have just as much fun as he had with this project.
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