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Greenmont Students Take On STEM Challenge

Nov 15, 2016 10:11AM ● By Theresa Gilman

A group of students work together in the Greenmont Gator Creator Maker Space.

(Editor's Note: this content was provided by Dracut Public Schools.)

During a Friday afternoon at the end of October, third-graders at the Greenmont Avenue School in Dracut were presented with the most challenging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activity they’ve tried yet! Each team of four students in Mrs. Borges’ and Mrs. Lesage’s third-grade classes were given 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of yarn, a yard of tape, and a marshmallow. The challenge? Build the tallest free-standing structure with the materials given, with the entire marshmallow resting on top, within a 30-minute time frame. Students were excited and anxious to begin, but that excitement quickly turned to frustration as students realized the challenge was not as easy as it seemed!

As groups spread out in classrooms and Greenmont’s Gator Creator Maker Space, many groups used time at the beginning of the challenge to discuss a plan for building their structure. Working cooperatively and being delicate with the materials proved to be more difficult than the actual construction. Thankfully for some groups, that frustration gave way to a better interchange of ideas as students realized they needed to rely on one another in order to build their structure. It was encouraging to hear students discuss the ideas they had and respectfully agree or disagree with one another. In the end, only four out of the thirteen groups completed their structure. The winning tower was 16.5 inches tall.

During a group discussion following the task, students admitted that working together and getting their ideas heard by their teammates was the most difficult part of the challenge. Students were complimented for their honesty and for persevering through to the end of the challenge. Mrs. Borges and Mrs. Lesage have planned two STEM activities per month, and plan to continue through the end of the school year. The teachers are hopeful that the students will continue to learn how to problem solve with their peers and apply those strategies in the real world.

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