In grade one, we have been working on our fourth unit of inquiry of the year, “How the World Works.” The central idea is “People have created and invented using their understanding of forces to make life easier.” With our exploration of simple machines and forces, this unit fit perfectly to prepare for the Festival of STEAM.
We used the Engineering Design Process to guide our inquiry into making games and activities that used forces or simple machines. The children led their own way as they imagined and then planned their games. To plan, they drew diagrams and wrote materials lists. We assembled a materials list for everyone and asked for donations such as cardboard and aluminum foil.
Then came the exciting next step, creating their games! Each child had to ask question, connect dots (figuratively and literally), problem solve, think creatively, and be innovative. Some of the games used pulley systems, some wheels and axels, some levers, some inclined planes, and some with push and pull forces. After each creation time, the children reflected on their daily discovers: what did they learn, what was challenging, and what was fun.
The children were so proud and excited to showcase all their hard work at the Festival of STEAM. Along with their games, there was a QR code with a video of each child discussing their process. In the end, they understood not only that using forces and simple machines make life easier, it also makes life more fun!