2nd Grade Learns How to KenKen!

Don’t worry. You read that right! We are not learning to CanCan in 2nd grade!

KenKen is a type of Math logic puzzle that is similar to Sudoku, but requires you to perform some math operations as well. Here is a link to an explanation for parents.

The students practiced this by using a free app called “Math Squared”. They also practiced another skill, which could be useful for learning Algebra later, called “Math Scaled”. I reviewed both of these on my professional blog today.

In addition to exercising their convergent thinking skills, the students continued to work on their Bridge Powerpoints, and we also read a fascinating book about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, by Elizabeth Mann. Ask your son or daughter to relate some of the interesting things they learned about this magnificent engineering feat.

2nd Grade Starts Powerpoints

Last Monday, the second graders began researching specific bridges that they had chosen.  The research was hard for them, because I challenged them with some questions that were not explicitly answered in the text, such as, “What are some factors  that influenced the materials and design?”  Despite the difficulty, they all worked hard, and most of them have started the 2nd phase of the project, which is to create Powerpoints with their information.

We finished up the day with some more SCAMPER activities.  The choices were to “Rearrange” Easter so that the bunny receives a gift from you instead of the other way around, or to “Combine” the Easter Bunny with another famous character, who could help the bunny with his job.  The students could also choose to try solving a very difficult logic problem, and I was really proud of the pair who worked hard to finish it correctly!

2nd Grade Researches Bridges

After reviewing what we learned about the Brooklyn Bridge, I showed the students how we could apply more depth to our learning using icons from Dr. Sandra Kaplan. We talked about the unique “Details” of the bridge, the “Trends” and “Patterns” in bridge building that we saw from looking at other suspension bridges, and how the bridge “Changed Over Time”.  Then the students each chose their own bridge from the Building Big website, and looked for similar information for their own bridges.

We also worked on a tough logic problem, and I was proud how hard everyone tried!  Great thinking, 2nd grade!

2nd Grade Explores the World of “Tanked”

We had a great opportunity today to go on a virtual field trip. Mrs. Valdez, in 5th grade, invited the 2nd grade GT students to join her class in a teleconference with the hosts from the television show, “Tanked”. For those of you who have not seen the show, it is a reality which films the productions of amazing aquariums all over the world. As we are studying structures, I knew this would fit right in with what we are studying. The men showed clips from the show, and answered questions from elementary students all over Texas. Unfortunately, our class was not chosen to ask a question live, but it was still exciting to watch and learn.

We also worked some more on SCAMPER, today. The students “Adapted” classrooms for leprechauns, and came up with some fun ideas. In addition, we viewed a short streaming video on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the students discussed the ethics involved in building the bridge. They then wrote from the perspective of the bridge, itself.

It was a busy day!

(You can click on each image to see a larger version. Please add comments. The students love them!)

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!

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.