Literacy Based STEAM Challenges

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The Maker Movement is big right now, and you can implement one in your own classroom with these STEAM challenges.

The Great Air Race

Begin the challenge with these 2 great books:
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen

Introduce the Challenge:

What makes a paper airplane fly the farthest? Create your own paper airplane. Experiment with different designs to find the one that will fly the farthest. Give your airplane at least 5 test flights and graph your data. Make a reflection video of your findings that include a recording of your test flights. 

This video trailer will help set the stage for your students as they create their own flying machines:

You can also inspire your students by watching the Guinness World Record for the Longest Paper Airplane flight – 226 feet!

CCSS 2.MD.A.4, 2.MD.D.10, W.2.7, W.2.8, 3.MD.B.3, W.3.8, ISTE 4a, 4c, 6c

Become an Inventor

In this challenge, we want students to get their creative juices flowing so they can become inventors. This is a very open-ended challenge, so get students inspired with this great book:

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

and this message from the Kid President:

Introduce the Challenge:

Time to get creative! Invent something that you think will be useful to others. Start with a problem that you want to solve with your invention. Write a script and create a commercial to describe your invention, how it works, and why you think other people will want to use it. 

You have probably heard of the Cardboard Challenge inspired by Caine's Arcade. Inventing something with cardboard could be a great way for students to begin inventing. Include different kinds of boxes and other miscellaneous items in your maker space, and share how Caine's Arcade got started:

This book also has a lot of inspiring ideas for cardboard inventors:

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

Another fun addition to your maker space could be the Cardboard Creator Toolkit from Lakeshore. It includes rivets, screws, hinges, and other tools that are made specifically for using with cardboard. My son got one for Christmas, and we have been making a lot of cardboard inventions at our house!
                                   Cardboard Robot             Cardboard Car with Steering Wheel

Once students have invented something, it's time to create a commercial. This is a great opportunity to work on opinion writing. Opinion writing is a standard for students grades 1 - 5, and the basic structure is the same. 

To help students write their own commercial scripts, start by analyzing infomercials that follow the same basic structure. Using Edpuzzle, I annotated these infomercials to identify the elements of opinion writing. 

I would suggest having students create their own commercials using iMovie or Shadow Puppet EDU once they have written their own scripts. 

CCSS  W.1.1, W.1.6, SL.1.5, W.2.1, W.2.6,  SL.2.5, W.3.1, W.3.6, SL.3.5, W.4.1, W.4.6, SL.4.5, W.5.1, W.5.6, SL.5.5 , ISTE 4a, 4d, 6a, 6b,6c, 6d

My Mixed Up Chameleon

This challenge is based on the story The Mixed Up Chameleon by Eric Carle:

First, students get to create their own mixed up chameleon using the app pic collage for kids. Erintegration had a great blog post called Eric Carle Style Digital Collages On Pic Collage. She gives step by step instructions on how to create these collages. Using this really cool digital collage technique, students can create their own mixed up chameleon on the iPad. 
Essential Question:
If your mixed up chameleon was a real animal, what kind of animal would it be?

Next, students analyze all the different animal parts that make up their mixed up chameleon. 
Thinking about the animal classification, the habitat, and the diet of all the animals that make up their mixed up Chameleon, students have to decide how they would classify their mixed up chameleon and justify their reasons. Using pic collage for kids, shadow puppet EDU, and putting it in Book Creator as an interactive digital notebook, I created an example of what it could look like:

CCSS RL.1.7, SL.1.5, RL.2.7, SL.2.5, NGSS 2-LS4-1, ISTE 6a, 6b

How to Create a Tangram Animal

This math challenge begins with the story Grandfather Tang's Story by Ann Tompert:

Introduce the Challenge:
Choose one of the tangram animals in the story and create it. Create a step by step “How to” guide using pictures to show someone how to recreate it. Be sure to use mathematical language.
*Bonus* Create your own tangram animal and directions. Remember that you must use all 7 shapes.

Students can create their own set of 7 tangrams with the instructions from this video:

Then, they can study one of the tangram animals from the book and create a "how to" story. By taking pictures of each step in the creation of a tangram animal, students can illustrate their "how to" story with their own pictures. The easiest way to do this is on the iPad using the book creator app to create each page of the story with the student's own pictures. Students can even use the app vimo to highlight important parts of their "how to" story. Here is an example:

I wrote a blog post with directions on how to use the app vimo. You can find it here: Coffee Break with Emily: Animated Valentines.

The next step in this challenge is to create a video glossary for geometry terms related to the tangrams. 

Although the following video is not one of the terms listed above, it is a student example of what the terms in this video glossary might look like. This video was created using Shadow Puppet EDU.

CCSS 2.G.A.1, W.2.2, W.2.6, SL.2.5, 3.G.A.1, W.3.2, W.3.6, SL.3.5, 4.G.A.1, W.4.2, W.4.6, SL.4.5 ISTE 6c

These Literacy Based STEAM Challenges are available for free on Teacher Sherpa. It includes QR codes for all the videos in this post and interactive digital notebook pages for each challenge. Enjoy!

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