2nd Graders Work on Substitutions and Suspensions

In this case, by “substitution”, I mean one of our creative thinking tools from S.C.A.M.P.E.R., with which you can invent something new by substituting something for one of its parts.  And the “suspensions” we were working on were suspension bridges.

The students got into the spirit of the upcoming holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, by imagining what might be fun to find at the end of the rainbow instead of a pot of gold.  They also practiced “combine”, the second part of S.C.A.M.P.E.R., by designing a clock combined with a shamrock.

To complete the K’Nex portion of our Bridges study, the students were able to choose whether to create an Arch Bridge or a Suspension Bridge.  We got some help from one of Hidden Forest’s WatchD.O.G.S., Mr. Castleberry.

2nd Grade Imagines a Different Kind of Bridge

Today I read The Great Bridge Lowering to the 2nd graders.  We had a short discussion about the ethics and perspectives that were in the story.  (Is it right to build a bridge with weaker materials to save money?  How would the architect feel about having his plans changed?)

Then, the students brainstormed their own solutions to the problem in the story, which was that a city had been split in half by a great river after an earthquake.  Instead of a bridge to the other side, the students imagined jetpacks and portals that might help you cross instead.

After that, the kids got to think about the pros and cons of different types of bridges:  a bridge with pockets, a bridge made out of rubber bands, a bridge that could move itself, and a bridge made out of jello.  Ask your students about their responses!

2nd Grade Engineers

2nd graders continued to learn about bridges this week.  They participated in “The Bridge Challenge” on the PBS Building Big website, and graduated to building the slightly-more-complex truss bridge with K-Nex.  In addition, they got to apply what they had learned by playing a game on the iPad called “Bridge Constructor Playground.”  This is a free app, though there is a paid version with more levels.  You can also get the free app “Bridge Constructor”, which makes the building process into more of a game in which you need to stick to a certain budget to create your bridge.

We talked about the “multiple perspectives” that should be considered when designing a bridge.  Here were some of the comments made by the students:

“You can use triangles to support your bridge.”  Elizabeth

“Beam bridges can’t be very long because the middle doesn’t have any support.”  Levi

“Different materials are stronger.”  Aravind

“Some materials crack in hot weather even though they are strong.” Anna

“Cost also can change the materials.”  Timothy

“Steel is one of the strongest materials, but will melt in high heat.”  Alex

“Steel is better to use in cold areas than concrete, which will crack.”  Katie

The way it looked, how safe it was, getting places on time (as in the case of a drawbridge) are all factors that the class realized should be examined before constructing a bridge.

2nd Grade Builds Beam Bridges

After taking quizzes using the iPods on what they learned on the PBS “Building Big” website during last class, the 2nd graders continued their study of structures by learning about the three main types of bridges: beam, truss, and suspension.  Then they built their own beam bridges using the K’Nex kits.  The special thing about our pictures this week?  The kids used the iPads to take their own pictures of the process, and chose which ones they wanted to display on the blog.  I took the three pics of the groups showing their finished bridges (one group is still working on it), but the rest of the pics are the results of ourstudent photographers!

Upcoming Contests and Events

Here are a few community events that might interest your students:

Doodle 4 Google (This year’s theme – “My Best Day Ever”)

Texas Cavaliers’ Art Contest (This year’s theme – “Stars on the River”)

Upcoming Events at the Witte Museum (thanks to Mr. Bonugli for pointing these out) – take a look, especially, at the “Build It” activity in February!

2nd Grade Paper Bridges

2nd grade had the challenge to make paper bridges today, after doing some research on the Building Big website.  Their bridges had to span two books, 20 cm. apart, and bear the weight of pennies.  Some of the students cleverly bypassed the difficulty of the challenge by opening the covers of their books to support the paper, or using their rulers underneath the paper.  Once I clarified that they could only use the paper, though, they were just as creative!

2nd Grade Creates Straw Structures

Our 2nd grade class is beginning the study of man-made structures, and they explored creating some of their own with straws and paper clips today.  They learned what shapes help to make the most stable structures, and used a lot of problem-solving skills and perseverance to build their constructions.