Travel Spring STEM Challenges

With a week off, I had a lot of time to think about ways to incorporate more travel into my teaching in the coming term. Recently I have created several STEM lessons that connect animals and their habitats and the seven continents, but I was thinking, there has to be more!

It was as I was pouring over old photos from previous trips, to create a gallery wall over my couch, that I was struck with inspiration. Earth Day STEM challenges!

Spring is right around the corner, and with it comes Earth Day. Many of the places I have seen and things I have learned would fit in perfectly to celebrate. I realized this would be a fun and different way to incorporate travel into the curriculum.

After much mulling about in my head, how exactly to turn pictures and experiences into Earth Day themed lessons, I came up with two ideas I was able to get down on paper.

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First up, my trip to Spain where I learned about Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona is an amazing place. Park seats, walls and buildings all designed with nature as the inspiration. Within the park Gaudi also used recycled porcelain pieces to add color to his creation. He recycled before recycling was cool!

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With Gaudi as the influence, I created a challenge I think my students will love; create a pencil holder as colorful as Gaudi’s work, using recycled materials. Simple yet effective. This STEM challenge will serve as the catalyst for our Earth Day celebration.

Next up, my trip to the Netherlands, specifically the little town of Zaanse Schans outside of Amsterdam. There they have old windmills still harnessing the power of the wind to operate.

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Windmills are an easy match with spring weather and Earth Day ideas of clean energy. Students will be challenged to make a windmill that meets certain requirements. The windmills of Zaanse Schans will be a great launching point for discussion of wind powered energy while also spotlighting a small country in Europe. I can’t wait to do this Spring STEM challenge!

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I know there are more STEM challenges right beneath the surface of other photos from trips I have taken. As I continue to wade through the many photos and reminisce on past trips I’m sure new ideas will spring up!

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Katy

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