This activity was so popular we actually had to turn kids away, as we ran out of space. We have a Minecraft Club which runs on Wednesday lunch times, which is always full, and our Minecraft books are continually in circulation.
This activity involved a bit of preparation but was popular and had links to the Science curriculum in the Year 2 mixtures unit and in Maths with measurement. We set it up as a series of stations which students had to move through, following the instructions at each stage.
Take a bowl.
Add one tablespoon of Epsom salts.
Add a quarter cup of bicarb soda.
Add a couple of drops of food colouring.
Add one drop of essential oil.
Add acidulated water (1 cup of water with one tablespoon of lemon juice added) very slowly (We used a spray bottle), mixing between each addition until it looks like damp sand.
This activity was cheap, quick and easy, and combined fun with science – all good things in my opinion. I got the idea here. All we needed was cardboard, sticky-tape and straws. I made a prototype using regular paper but it wasn’t stiff enough. After making the hoop gliders we took the kids outside and had a competition to see whose could fly the furthest. It was surprising how far they could travel.
To celebrate National Science Week we ran some robotics activities in the library each lunchtime. In our MakerSpace we have a number of different robots which we set up and used. Students manoeuvered the Lego EV3 robot and attempted to get it to shoot its missiles at a target. The Sphero and Sprk robots both had to be manipulated through a maze using an iPad or iPhone. We had long lines of students waiting to use the robots and even some of the staff came down to give it a try. We also set up a display on robots, highlighting some of our fiction and non-fiction titles.
Our first MakerSpace activity for the new school year involved students making these cards, ostensibly for Valentine’s Day, but they would be appropriate for any occasion. It was a very cheap activity – I only needed to purchase a $4 packet of rhinestones from Spotlight – everything else we already had.
To save time, my aide pre-cut the white paper to card size and pre-printed pages of heart outlines on coloured paper. Students then just had to cut the hearts out and fold and glue them following these Valentine’s day card instructions which I typed up using the following video as a guide.
One of our office staff who is very into crafting, passed on this Christmas craft idea from Clever Patch. For only $1.98, I could buy a kit with all the instructions and craft materials to make a Christmas elf ornament. I bought twenty kits. I could have used more as I normally have more students than that turn up, but I was mindful of my budget. The activity was challenging enough that it engaged students and allowed for a degree of creativity in the design and placement of the beads, but it was simple enough that students could follow the instructions with minimal guidance. For some reason they love to use the hot glue gun and, even though it wasn’t necessary, they enjoyed gluing the hats to their elf’s head. They now have a hand-made ornament to hang from their Christmas tree.
Our kids love an engineering challenge. We decided to run a sail car competition, prompted by this instructable. I showed kids some images and a trial one I’d made as inspiration and then gave them a pile of paddle pop sticks, straws, sheets of paper to act as sails, rubber bands and sticky tape to experiment with and make their own design. The designing, trialing and re-designing is where all the learning takes place – as well as the fun. For wheels, we used plastic cotton reels that our Kindy had as part of a threading kit.
When each group had created their sail car we tested them to see which one could travel the length of a desk the fastest, using only the power of their breath to propel it.
We wanted to add a bit of science to our MakerSpace activity this week, so we got kids to grow their own crystals. I got the idea and used the recipe from this web site. Using pipe cleaners, students created their name or a simple image – stars, flowers, hearts and butterflies were popular. We then created a solution of water and borax – cheap and readily available from hardware stores and some supermarkets. I didn’t bother dying the solution as the recipe suggests – a) I didn’t have enough containers and b) the colour of the pipe cleaners came through the clear crystals. The students then tied some fishing line to their pipe cleaner and attached the other end to a skewer. There was a bit of trial and error getting the line the right length so that the whole design was in the solution but wasn’t touching the bottom of the container.
Then came the hard part – waiting for the crystals to form overnight. In the morning we lifted the skewers out of the solution and allowed the now crystal-covered pipe cleaners to dry. They were difficult to photograph well but look quite effective, particularly when held up to the light.