Monday, September 3, 2018

Make Learning Memorable

It has been a long time since I have blogged, but my to-do list has been so long!  No more excuses!  It is the beginning of the school year and time for some inspiration!

In this time of instant gratification, online gaming, less family face-time, and less communication, we need to inspire our students by giving them something to go home and talk to their families about.  It is time to make learning memorable!  You can't be "Super Teacher" every day of your career, but if you aren't causing students to go home thinking their day was amazing, we aren't inspiring their creativity. 

Last school year I wanted to make our Space unit more memorable and make a real difference in our school.  I really wanted to take my students to a Planetarium for a field trip, but we were maxed out on the number of trips we could take.  I ran across an idea on Pinterest for a cardboard planetarium from Beals Science

Using their amazing plans, I wrote a Donors Choose for some of the supplies, which was funded pretty quickly.  I contacted a cardboard company that is right around the corner from our school.  They were the nicest people and they donated all of the cardboard (plus lots of extra)!  I made templates with my kids, then let them measure and trace the templates on the huge cardboard.  For safety reasons I cut the cardboard all by myself and scored the flaps.  I drilled holes where the rivets were supposed to go.

We started attaching the panels together in the classroom, but quickly had to move to the media center to complete the hexagons and pentagons.  On day 1 of building, I quickly realized that the rivets were not going to hold the very thick cardboard.  I had to run to the hardware store after school and get zip ties to try on day 2.  Zip ties worked and with a lot of effort from the kids and multiple staff members (thanks to everyone at my school that helped!) we were able to put it all together!

The cardboard was the extremely thick and durable kind, so it was very heavy.  Also, third graders are not perfect when it comes to tracing and I was not perfect when it came to cutting, so I needed to do some reinforcing inside.  I went back to the hardware store and bought pvc pipe and 3 way connectors to make a cube inside the dome before I allowed students inside. 

Once it was built, we viewed some planet videos inside so we could see the dome in action!  It was amazing!  We also shared it with the other grade levels in our building as space is covered in First grade, Third Grade, and Fourth Grade.  A few other grade levels visited too!

My students remember this activity fondly because they learned about geometry and the importance of precision in measuring, tracing, and cutting.  They also learned about perseverance when it came to building this huge dome and how even the best laid plans have to be revised to complete a project.  They also successfully learned about space and the planets in an innovative way.

As kids walked into my classroom on the first day of school this year, I overheard several of them mentioning that I was the teacher that built the planetarium and completed some other cool school-wide projects last year.  This school year I am already making plans to build a reusable dome out of PVC pipes and connectors!  I already have the connectors funded through a Donors Choose and I am asking local pipe manufacturers to donate the pipes for us. 

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