It was Cardboard Challenge week in CLIC. 5th graders spent the week in CLIC working in groups designing, building, testing, redesigning, and retesting their awesome cardboard projects. Students had to work together from start to finish creating some of the best games and experiences I have seen yet. Part of the challenge is to work collaboratively but most of all, it is to successfully create a product that is both entertaining and will work reliably. Once built, the fifth graders spent the Wednesday morning before vacation sharing their games with the entire school. Everyone loved trying out the projects! The projects were a great success.
CLIC STEAM Clubs are wrapping up an extensive unit on pneumatic and hydraulic powered machines. Students have been building, testing, and redesigning their machines to first be able to have a component that could be manipulated to move. Then students had to figure out how to attach the air or water powered syringes in a way that allowed the moving components to work reliably.
I have seen so much growth in STEAM Club members this month. Many times these projects are difficult and challenging to build yet get to move. Students have gained patience and hard working attitudes to successfully work through the engineering process. Every person is building something unique so they had to work independently for themselves. It is a great lesson in figuring out how things work. I love when kids come in and say they noticed how dump trucks and the lifts at Home Depot have pistons like our syringes. Once you understand something like hydraulics you begin to see this technology all around us and be curious about it.
Ms. Strobl's 6th Grade Science classes came to CLIC to do hands on projects based on what they are learning in science this month. Ms. Strobl has been teaching about continental drift, tectonic plates, Pangaea, and scientific evidence of how the continents have moved over time. Students applied what they have learned to create movable scientific models of Pangaea. They worked collaboratively in groups representing each continent. Students had to research and create 3-dimensional continents with mountain ranges, volcanoes, and land forms. They learned how to model and sculpt with plaster. Groups had to work together to have their continents and evidence match up. Continent groups also created fossil evidence and scientific labels so that viewers would learn about continental drift from their display.
Classes went on to further their understanding by creating models of the earth's layers and tectonic plate models. The end results were fit for a science museum.
Mass, Volume, and Density Labs
5th grade scientists are coming to CLIC during the school day for the next two weeks to do mass, volume, and density labs. Talking about density and how it relates to mass and volume is easier understood through hands-on labs. We will also being investigating the different states of matter. We will being doing labs on how temperature changes affects density. 5th grade will end the unit with taking all that we've learned to do a lab on how gas, solids, and liquids react. These labs are interesting and exciting!
We are first talking about how increasing the mass of a fluid changes the density of the fluid. Even though the sugar dissolves in the water, it is still and what has changed? The density discussions have been awesome, and students were encouraged but not required to take notes. They all took notes! I am impressed by the group's attention to detail and thoughts of how they could have done the lab better. I also value the feedback they gave me.
We will be moving on to comparing three cups of mystery fluids to predict what they are and arrange in order of highest to lowest density. We will then combine them from highest density on the bottom to lowest density on top. We will also do a lab where we add in a lab on adding a gas to varying density of fluids. I will reveal our results next week after all students do the lab. I don't want to give the answer away!
The thing that most impressed me is that students did not get upset that their experiment results were not perfect and some did not work out at all. Groups were encouraged to start another vial and try it again and again until they had success. They were also encouraged to then add more sugar or do what they thought would give the result they wanted.
My greatest goal is for students to work hard for their results. Scientists, engineers, artists, chefs, and other creative people work months, years, and decades working and observing to find a result they are hoping to solve. I like to give students opportunites to work in a collaborative work environment. I love seeing the kids work together, give suggestions, change direction, start over, and enjoy directing the labs.
What's Happening in CLIC
STEAM Clubs are starting a challenging unit on pneumatic and hydraulic powered contraptions. This is a continued discussion on the power of water. We are learning about how air and water are different in the way that air can be compressed and water can not be compressed. By using syringes and plastic tubing we are utilizing this concept to create powerful machines.
This week we are finishing our paper animal mouths that children had to figure out how to animate using pneumatic (air) power. Once that task is figured out, we will move on to learning how to build hinged machines out of wood that will be powered by hydraulics. (water) Even filling the syringes and tubing with water is a challenge. This project is going to be extremely challenging and frustrating, but the rewards will be great.
My goal for STEAM Club is teach children science concepts by doing. I want them to learn how to build and use tools. Most of all, this club is for children who want to work hard to make something work. I leave projects open ended so that children can be creative with how to execute the project. At the start of the year, many children are not used to not having things not work right away. These projects are tough and I want the kids to understand that it may take 25 tries to get their project to work. These are not failures but valuable lessons in how to go back and make things work. This is hard for many kids since they expect perfection on the first try.
Art Clubs are working on a unit on portraiture. We have been creating frontal portraits using the mathematical proportioning method. By approaching drawing a face into an approachable method that will work every time, students are given a life skill of breaking an overwhelming task into small pieces. We do a step by step method of drawing the face in sections using guide lines and shapes and lines to make sure everything is in proportion. Although all faces are different, share common symmetry in our proportions. The first day, many children were anxious and overwhelmed. Once learning the method, they are masters of portraiture! The work they are producing is stunning.
We will moving on to a unit on animal portraits in sculptural form. We will be sketching animal portraits that will be transformed into paper pulp sculptures. The goal is take the method of proportioning from the human portrait lesson and apply it to creating three dimensional shapes in a sculpture.
CLIC during the school day
This week, 5th grade classes will be coming to CLIC to do hands on science experiments that will be focusing on mass, volume, and density. We will be learning about the importance of these concepts in real life applications. From designing submarines or loading freighter ships to understanding how the seasonal temperature changes support life in a pond, the properties of water are important in understand for everyone. It's going to be a fun lab using common materials that hopefully, your children will come home and show you at home!
CLIC Before and After school Clubs this week
We are off to a great start in CLIC! Classes are beginning to come during the school day. I am busy meeting with teachers creating hands on projects for your children's science, social studies, and language arts learning this month.
For those who don't know me, I created CLIC Program for Proctor School in 2011, and was the CLIC teacher until 2016. I took some time off, and educator, Kristen Cahill taught CLIC until 2019. I am happy to be returning to Proctor School as the CLIC teacher once again. I have always enjoyed working with the community of Topsfield. I am looking forward to getting to know all of you and have an exciting year with your children.
CLIC Clubs have begun this week of September 23rd. You can get CLIC Club permission forms on the Club Forms link on the website as well at the school. I ask that everyone have patience as we transition to the paper permission form this year. There will be no online sign up. I will do my best to get all children into the clubs. There are:
Please consider making a donation to CLIC Program. CLIC is unique in that it is supported through both private and public funding. The entire materials budget for CLIC comes from families, companies, organizations, and grants. If you love what CLIC does for your child's creativity, education, and sense of community, please support it! Every donation makes a difference. and you can donate at any time of the year.
Please make checks out to Town of Topsfield with CLIC on the memo line. Thank you!
I am also looking for material donations. If you have something that you think the children would enjoy working with please let me know. Some of the best materials in CLIC come from families cleaning out a craft closet or donating left over materials from projects. We especially need large pieces of cardboard or plywood for theatre sets. I also would love to teach the chidren how to sew on sewing machines so that's on the top of the wishlist. You can contact me at email@example.com .
Thank you! Jen LaRussa