A “Crushing” STEM Experience

Today was one of those great days when I get to work in classrooms … 3 fourth grade classes … 2 of them in the same school I visited, and 1 class 2,000 miles away. First I helped set up a “Mystery Skype” call with a class in Illinois so they could basically play the 20 questions game to figure out where each class was. Maps and questioning techniques came into play and new friends were made.







After the Skype call I stuck around and another 4th grade class joined us so we could continue their study of the atmosphere. Both classes were recently involved in the PongSat program that sends experiments to near space in ping pong balls with weather balloons. We crushed a few soda cans, which was a review for them … although they had never had an explanation as to why the cans crush … they have only been thinking and writing their ideas about what is going on.

So today to give them something else to think about – we did this:


Next students shared their thinking about the science behind what happened, and then I led a discussion using their ideas to get them to a better understanding. Then the teachers had me show them a video of a high altitude balloon bursting from the air pressure and asked them to explain how that was related. All in all a great experience.

Learning is messy!

This entry was posted in Education, Messy Learning, STEM, Student Access, Teacher Access, Technology, Video Skype. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A “Crushing” STEM Experience

  1. Kelly says:

    I teach in a STEM magnet, and appreciate your article. I’m having a hard time finding other classrooms who are including Engineering as well, and have also mentioned to vendors that I just don’t see the STEM connection with their product. My classroom works off of PBL, and we build in a lot of engineering. I’m always looking for new ideas, so I’ll check back here and watch your messy learning. By the way…. my classroom is often a mess of “learning in progress” as well.

  2. Kiki Marton says:

    I really liked your use of “Mystery Skype” as the children had to find out where each class was geographically. This blog is a great way to communicate with parents what exactly your mission is in the classroom. To use the STEM experience to include engineering in various classroom activities. There is also a link to students’ work which is an effective way to communicate from school-to-home about school programs and student progress.

  3. Lee Ann Stover says:

    This is a great demonstration! I have done similar with soda cans, but this one really gets the kids attention! I appreciate that the teacher is having them reflect and write about what they think is going on, but its good to walk them through it. I also like the idea of skyping with other students a good distance away. This would be a great activity for students at any grade level, just modify the concepts as needed. Thanks for your video and posts.

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