‘Using the scientific method’

Holy Redeemer School third-graders create STEM projects

Photo courtesy of Anna Lenz Third-grader Grant Hisken gives a presentation of how his STEM project works.

MARSHALL — Creative projects are currently scattered throughout the science lab at Holy Redeemer School as third-graders showcase their recent hands-on efforts to their peers and community.

“Our third-graders made some great looking projects,” HRS music teacher Anna Lenz said.

The experience served as an opportunity for the third-grade students to get a small taste of what will be expected of them the following year as HRS transitioned from doing a science fair to a STEM fair this spring for students in grades 4-6.

The STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math — are becoming increasingly more important for kids to be learning in schools across the country, where the need for more innovators and scientists as well as other creative thinkers and problem solvers is high.

“This is our first time doing this and it came about as we shift from doing science fair to a STEM fair in grades 4-6 this spring,” third-grade teacher Mary Surprenant said. “I wanted the third-graders to have an introduction to the Engineering Design Process and decided to build upon our study of the 6 Simple Machines (the wheel and axle, lever, inclined plane, pulley, screw and wedge). We wanted to get them excited about being part of the STEM fair the following year and can say they are.”

Surprenant invited teachers to bring their students to the science lab “to view the amazing projects” done by the third-grade students.

“The third-graders were instructed to create a compound machine, using at least two of the simple machines and their prototype had to serve a function or purpose,” she said. “Come see everything from a cookie milk-dunker to a self-operated pet feeder and more.”

Several of the third-graders in Surprenant’s class were eager to share information about their projects.

“I made a puppet theater, and it had a retractable curtain,” Nola Lane said. “It also has wheels on the bottom. I think it turned out good.”

Lane enjoyed combining two things she really likes — puppet shows and science.

“I liked that I could do puppet shows and I could open up the curtain,” she said.

Like Lane, Hudson Weverka was pleased with how his STEM project turned out.

“I made this truck with a trailer that helps cars when they don’t have any power,” Weverka said. “There’s a level that would pick up the car. I like science because sometimes you get to make projects like this.”

While the project is officially completed, the problem-solving process has not really stopped for Weverka.

“I’m thinking of also putting the straps on, too,” he said. “Like you would pull it up and then put the straps on. I might do that later at home.”

Sydney Bauer built a different type of project.

“It’s a machine that you crank it and the box goes up, hits a switch and then it turns on the light,” she said. “I really like science a lot.”

Wyatt Brockberg’s STEM project simulated the action of a tow truck.

“I like crafting Legos into each other and wished I had a two truck, so I can tow them,” he said. “So I built a wooden tow truck for Legos. You crank it and you can put it sideways or stand it up. I thought it was pretty cool.”

When asked why he liked science, Brockberg said he enjoyed “using the scientific method.”

The ongoing process of using the scientific method includes making observations, thinking of interesting questions, formulating hypotheses, developing testable predictions, gathering data to test predictions — and oftentimes, refining, altering, expanding or rejecting hypotheses — and then developing general theories.

Braden Luckhardt said he also likes science, along with two other passions: music and animals.

“I made something like a wheelbarrow, but with tinier things,” he said. “I used two rulers, a pencil, screws and a little bowl, and I screwed the stuff into there. I used tubing and taping to get it stapled. Then it’s like a wheelbarrow when I stick the pencil through them. I drilled holed for the thing, so I could actually stick it through there.”

Surprenant said she wanted the projects to be a joint effort between students and parents.

“I wanted it to be a weekend project,” she said. “My expectation was that the student would be able to demonstrate and explain their now-compound machine — a machine using at least two of the six simple machines. For the initial year, I was very happy with the results and the presentations that were given.”

The successful outcome also sparked the other third-grade section, taught by Dana Peterson, to follow suit.

“I shared the idea with Mrs. Peterson and the other section will be doing this also fourth quarter,” Surprenant said.