GT Updates 5/13/16

It has been another one of those topsy-turvy weeks with STAAR testing and power outages, so I am going to do one blog post to summarize the last 5 days.

On Monday 2nd grade was not able to have class as I was helping with STAAR testing.  Fortunately, I finished in time to meet with the 1st graders in the afternoon, and they finished their GT Mother’s Day projects.

Tuesday morning’s STAAR testing meant I couldn’t meet with 3rd grade, but Kinder got to meet and play more Robot Turtles, adding challenges (and even getting to the point where they could”write” a program!)  On Friday, Kinder met with me again, and we reviewed Inventor Thinking by reading Cinderella Bigfoot and trying to think of funny substitutions we could do in other fairytales.

On Wednesday we had no electricity, which meant the planned STAAR testing was cancelled, but we kept our STAAR schedule – so I was able to meet with 4th grade for some of the time.  They worked on trying to add colored sand to their 3-d printed mandals, which was a learning experience for all of us!

Thursday was our last day of STAAR testing, and I was able to meet with 5th grade after the test.  The students worked on thinking deeply about drones, and then we had a somewhat surprise visit from Dr. Smith and his co-worker, Robin, from Smith & Shedd Veterinary Hospital.  I say that it was a surprise because we had planned it a few weeks ago, and it somehow dropped off my calendar;) Fortunately, we weren’t STAAR testing at the time!  Dr. Smith and Robin really helped several of the students with their Genius Hour research, and gave us some fascinating things to think about regarding animal abuse, puppy mills, and hunting.

As you can read, the week was busy and required a lot of flexibility!  We should be back on track for our last two weeks of GT!

2nd Grade

The 2nd graders worked on a super secret Mother’s Day project that we will complete next Monday.  We had some technology glitches, but they also tried to do some iPad research on skyscrapers to add to our knowledge of structures.  In addition, the students got great math practice by working on Math Analogies like the ones portrayed in on the book cover below.

We will not be able to have GT this coming Monday due to STAAR testing, so I will see the students again on May 16th. Only two more class meetings to go!


2nd Grade Submits Their Lunchbox Designs

The 2nd graders have been working for awhile on learning how to use the 3d design program, Tinkercad, so they can print out 3d models of their biomimetic lunchbox designs.  Many of them finished their designs this week, and we hope to get them printed so they can add some finishing touches.  You can see some of their Tinkercad designs below:

2nd Grade Adapts Bridges for Flying Cars

The 2nd graders were very keen on finishing up the K’nex bridges they had started building a few weeks ago.  Because I wanted to add some higher order thinking to their projects (instead of just following directions for the kit), I showed them a video about a flying car that may possibly go into production in the next few years.  We talked about what might happen to bridges if people were driving flying cars, and decided that we would still need bridges because: not everyone would be able to afford a flying car, and even flying cars need to have some kind of “highway” so they don’t run into each other.  The students were tasked with coming up with hybrid bridges that would work for standard and flying cars.  An idea from one of the groups was to make their bascule bridge (drawbridge) into big traffic lights for the flying cars to use.  You can see their example below.  Pretty intriguing!

2nd Grade Begins 3d Design for Lunchboxes

The 2nd graders have gone through several tutorials in Tinkercad, and they are finally getting the chance to try to re-create their biomimetic lunchboxes that they sketched a couple of months using Tinkercad’s 3d modeling.  It has been a learning experience for all of us, and we are discovering lots of different features in Tinkercad that can help us!

Speaking of 3d modeling, we hope to eventually print the lunchboxes using our 3d printer that was generously donated to our class through Donors Choose.  This week, the 2nd graders worked on making you thank-you cards for some of the donors – one of whom is the father of one of our GT 2nd graders!

The 2nd graders are also working on some tough math lessons that are actually an introduction to algebra.  They are called, “Balance Benders,” and show shapes on a balance beam to help students use algebraic concepts.  I think they will agree that the exercises started out fairly easy, but have definitely increased in difficulty!

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2nd Grade “Builds Big”

The 2nd graders explored some of the interactive features on the Building Big website to learn more about different things that can effect the sturdiness of structures. Then they spent more time working in Tinkercad (using the Project Ignite website).  We all tried to build houses in Tinkercad, and we all found it challenging!  But we are learning from our mistakes, and definitely making progress.  Hopefully we will be able to start designing our 3d lunchboxes soon!

2nd Grade Builds K’nex Beam Bridges

The 2nd graders used K’nex kits to learn more about beam bridges this week.  You can see their varied constructions in the gallery below! (Remember that you can click on a picture to enlarge it.)

2nd Grade Gets an Engineering Challenge

For the second semester, we are looking at man-made structures.  I asked the students to build a bridge that spanned a gap between two tables in the classroom.  The bridge could only be built using straws and paperclips, and it would have to hold a dictionary when it was finished.  It was fun to watch the students collaborating on different ideas for the bridge.  Mr. Borski, who was Watchdog for the day, got to help, too.  One thing that I hadn’t taught the students yet was the power of triangles, but they slowly discovered this on their own.  Unfortunately, the bridge did not get built – yet.  The students agreed that more learning would be needed to help them come up with a design.  Then we talked about different types of bridges and made the connection between beam bridges and the bridge they were trying to build.

2nd Grade Works on Tinkercad

I’m so sorry because I forgot to take pictures during 2nd grade GT this week! They were finishing up their clay prototypes of their lunchboxes, and then the students spent the rest of the class time doing a Tinkercad tutorial. Tinkercad is computer software for design.  We are going to be using it to try to make the lunchboxes on the 3D printer.  For right now, the students are just learning about the tools, and discovering all of the different ways to manipulate shapes in the software.  I told them that they are my first class in that age group to try Tinkercad, and most of them seem excited about the challenge!

2nd Grade Works on Making Prototypes

Once the students completed the diagrams of their biomimicry lunchboxes, they began to brainstorm possible names and to create prototypes with clay. Some of them have already found out that parts of their design are not really cooperating when they try to make “real-life” versions, which is a good lesson to carry with them when they try to 3d print the lunchboxes they have imagined!  Next class, the students will be working on learning to use Tinkercad, the 3D design program we will be using on the computers.