A Field Trip Made for Tinkering

Tasha Henderson describes herself as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics geek! She is a STEM coordinator for Chicago Public Schools, implementing  STEM based activities to kindergarten through fourth grades at Sir Miles Davis Magnet Academy.

She recently presented her second graders with a BIG challenge and a fun field trip to the Children’s Museum located at the Navy Pier in downtown Chicago. Henderson taught her own Engineering Class at the Tinkering Lab.  Children were challenged to create an apparatus that would help improve the quality of life for a disabled veteran.  Her students got to try out their tinkering skills as they began to design, discuss, construct, test and improve their own prototypes. One second grader built an artificial hand made out of wood, designed to help a veteran if they lost their hand due to combat. All the materials were provided by the museum.

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Henderson is currently employing her year long Dream IT project.  Her plan is based upon the idea of “Engineering is all around us” as she enriches her curriculum with activities that explore the world through an engineering lens. The field trip certainly had great potential to support student understanding, as well as foster interest and excitement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  Mrs. Henderson looks forward to future STEM commitments such as the Bristle Challenge, where students design and construct robots from household items. She has also scheduled an in school engineering workshop. Her third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders will get to create their own solar cell cars from recycled paper.  Where can students show off their hard work?  A classroom Maker’s Faire is coming soon!

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