Junk, litters, and STEM.

stem vehicle I was at the Keyneton Primary school the other day. This was the final of three days based on STEM. The students had familiarised themselves with the resources and this final day was a STEM challenge. They had to make a vehicle that could carry a person 10 metres using only the junk and nature I brought. One group was very sophisticated. They had many ideas, and ended up creating something that moved like the tracks of a tank. The team I was watching was thinking about how the Egyptians moved the pyramid rocks. They couldn’t think of any way to pull it off and were getting frustrated. Suddenly one student shouted, we should just make one of those things they use in China (a litter). She explained to the others it was the human powered carts used in Kung Fu Panda. One pallet and two sticks latter, and they had met their challenge and proudly marched across the school yard to demonstrate their accomplishment. I asked her, how did she suddenly come up with this, just as they were giving up. She said she looked at her friend (who was Chinese) and the idea hit her like a bolt of lightning.  Part of learning science is learning about thinking scientifically. Historically, many scientist ideas came to them like a bolt of lightning from some strange dream, or an irrelevant trigger. They went on to test their litter with various carrying capacities, and shapes and were excitedly engaged till the end of the session.

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