Academic Excellence

STEMming from Creativity

Written by the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders

The 2nd through 4th graders participated in several STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) challenges this trimester.  For every challenge, they planned, created, tested, and revised their designs. During this process, they learned how to assess their work from a rubric ranging from engineering technician to senior engineer. These challenges have allowed the students to develop their critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration skills. Below are reflections written by students on the different challenges they did this trimester.


The 4th grade team made their dam with dough from flour and water. They shaped the dough into rectangular bricks, added popsicle sticks to the outside, and put a cut-up ziplock bag on the inside. Meanwhile, the 3rd grade team rolled their dough into tiny balls and used the balls to glue popsicle sticks together. Everyone had a chance to pour two test tubes of water into the tin foil pan. After an hour, both of the dams flooded. Although the project was not a success, they learned that something stronger would be needed to hold up the dam.

“We needed to use more dough for more layers because there were empty spaces between the bricks.”


“I think we need to let the dough dry more so the dam can hold the water in better.”


Flood Safe House

The 4th grade team built a house using card stock. They wrapped plastic wrap on the house so it wouldn’t get wet and used cardboard so it could stand on water. On the other hand, the first 3rd grade team used Lego blocks to build their house, wrapped three layers of plastic wrap over it, and secured it with rubber bands and paper clips. Their house floated on water. Last but not least, the second 3rd grade team used clay for their house and covered it with plastic wrap to prevent it from filling up with water. Despite their efforts, it still filled up with water and became an indoor swimming pool. They reflected that the houses would not have worked without plastic wrap.

“I learned that we could have used a piece of flat cardboard for the base so the house could float.”


“I learned that we can make the house lighter so it can float.”


“Popsicle sticks aren’t the best for making a flood safe home because it is hard to glue popsicle sticks together. I would probably use hardened clay or dough because it is stronger.”


Cloud in a Jar

The students put hot water in a jar along with blue food coloring. Then, they placed a paper towel on top and put everything into a big jar. After closing the jar, they put a bag of ice on the lid and left it out for a night. The next morning, the blue water had evaporated onto the paper towel.


For this project, the students learned that anemometers are used to measure wind speed and they explored further by creating their own anemometers. First, they cut four paper cups in half and connected two straws with paper clips. They stapled the paper cups onto the straws and used a thumb tack to attach the straws to a pencil. Then, they tested the anemometer and it worked!