ChRiStMaS sTeM cHaLLeNge…

To start our Christmas FUN the fours were put to the test with this STEM activity. They were asked to create two free standing christmas trees using only the materials provided.

Tree 1: jelly tots, toothpicks and a paper plate

Tree 2: lego, base plate and bucket

Grades were split into four groups of 6, then split into 2 teams of 3. One group to work on the lego tree and one group to work on the jelly tot tree, swapping after certain times so each group worked on each activity a few times.

Each group was given 5 mins to discuss and plan and 2 mins to set up materials.

Of course there were rules...

  • No discussion between groups once timer has started
  • Lego can only be taken from the main box in the first 30 seconds of swap over.
  • If groups argued or misbehaved – time was taken off them as a penalty

Time intervals changed throughout the activity and an extra dip into the big lego boxes was allowed at least once. The concentration was amazing as well as the teamwork. There were some interesting design concepts, engineering and some colourful and unusual shaped christmas trees.

This was a successful STEM activity that produced lots of teamwork, discussion, redesigning and FUN…but the most exciting time came at the end when they got to devour the jelly tots 😉



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This week it was all about learning from our mistakes and trying to find solutions to them. The grade fours were back creating mazes so they could complete a code for the bee bots to move around the maze. In other words we were debugging…

While they were working they were given a couple of questions to consider…

What did you find the most difficult?

  • coding

How did you try to fix this?

  • coding in small steps
  • changing the walls to suit the bee bots movements
  • fixing the maze so the track is wider
  • making smaller and less complicated mazes

What did you learn about coding?

  • It isn’t as easy as it sounds
  • it doesn’t always work the first time
  • it’s a set of instructions
  • you need to be very precise
  • it takes time to get it right
  • could need to test and retest
  • code in small steps

Success is SWEET 🙂 Well done Aiden, Jyotsna and Josh.


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BeE-bOt MaZeS…

Our second CODING challenge involved bee-bots, cotton buds and a ruler.


The challenge was to build a maze using cotton buds and program a bee-bot to travel through the maze. Of course there were conditions:

  • the maze needed an entry and exit point
  • only one box of cotton buds (200 tips) could be used
  • the maze had to wide enough to fit a bee-bot through
  • a code had to be written for the bee-bot to get it from the start to the finish of the maze

img_0856We revised what we learnt from the previous week and discussed how precise coding is and how our algorithms needed to be simple and clear. We also talked about testing and retesting to iron out the bugs…

So mazes were restructured and rebuilt, new instructions were added and others deleted, in order to get the bee-bot from one end of the maze to the other.

This created great excitement, discussions and teamwork…










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jAm SaNdWiCh COdInG…

This week the grade fours were introduced to CODING… they were set the following challenge:

‘Create an algorithm (set of instructions) to instruct a robot (Mrs Brough), to make a jam sandwich.’

Sounds easy right?

Not sure all the fours would agree. The robot ‘Mrs Brough’ did not behave exactly like they would have liked. The robot could only follow the instructions that were read out…

The fours soon became aware that you need to be very precise when creating algorithms to convert into code.

They also learnt about fixing BUGS (mistakes) and correcting them until they had a PRECISE set of instructions (algorithms).

There were some very interesting sandwiches, not any that the robot (Mrs Brough) was keen to eat! It was a great visual way to show the fours exactly how CODING works…

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BaLlOoN tOwErS

It was back to STEM this week and the challenge was to build a balloon tower over one metre high, using 12 balloons and masking tape. A time limit of 30 minutes was set with 10 extra minutes of thinking, planning and designing time.

There were a few rules to follow:

  • only team members can blow up balloons and tie them
  • if a balloon pops there are no replacements
  • Be careful when using the tape as once it’s stuck you cannot remove it

Here’s a few designs:

This was such a loud, fun team oriented activity. There was lots of discussion, teamwork, measuring, designing, balloon popping and laughter. Most teams met the challenge brief and were successful.

We learnt when building a balloon tower that if you blow the balloons up big they need to placed at the bottom of the structure and the smaller balloons placed towards the top or else the tower begins to lean. You definitely need a base of some sort to add balance. Too much tape makes the balloons pop, can make the tower lean to one side and pulling the tape of the balloons means they do POP!!!

Here’s a LOTS of photos showing just how much FUN the FOURS had with this STEM activity…

The winners for the tallest tower goes to Taylah, Jai, Hebron and Jesse from 4TC. They well and truly met the challenge brief…Congratulations guys on your HUGE effort!


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PEG launchers…

Great way to start the term…the PEG launchers got the thumbs up from the fours!

There was plenty of imagination and creativity during this STEM challenge. It was great to see each group working together, testing and redesigning to come up with their final launchers. Not all of them were as successful as they could of been but we discussed the factors that influenced this…things such as the wild weather, not enough practice and not applying enough tension to launch the peg.

Here’s a few of the designs…the last photo shows Kelvin with the winning design. Bragging rights go to Michael and Kelvin on their awesome PEG launcher…Congratulations you are the winning team out of all the grade fours!

After the launching, each group had to produce a pic collage answering the following questions:

  1. How did you make your peg launcher and what materials did you use?
  2. How did your peg launcher work, did it travel any distance and what improvements could you make?
  3. Remember to add a title, selfie of group members and photos of the peg launcher.


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Let’s start the term with some FUN!

STEM Challenge: In groups of two or three create a peg launcher using at least two of the materials listed. Time limit is 40 minutes. The launcher should be designed to launch the longest distance possible. You can pre test in your 40 minutes and redesign to improve the launcher. As a grade we will launch all the launchers simultaneously.


  • One cup
  • One PEG
  • One spoon
  • Six icy pole sticks
  • Two rubber bands
  • 60cm string/wool
  • Tape

Think outside the box for this one, as there is no right or wrong way to design your launcher. Remember it’s all about the distance the launcher can achieve…


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Paper Chain Challenge…

This week the fours tackled another STEM Activity – the Paper Chain Challenge

The challenge in pairs was to construct the longest paper chain using just one piece of paper. The materials were:

  • one piece of A4 cover paper
  • scissors
  • glue stick

They had 30 minutes to complete the challenge and here were the only rules:

  • extra paper will not be provided so PLAN carefully!
  • all measuring will be done at the end of the activity.
  • remember to have FUN!

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At the end of the 30 minutes we measured each paper chain to work out who’s paper chain was the longest. The excitement built as each paper chain was put in the line.

We did discuss why it was the longest and things we could improve on if we did the challenge again. Here’s a few things we came up with as to why one chain was longer than the others…

  • the size of the loops, ie how thin?
  • where the loops were glued together, ie how close they were looped?
  • whether the paper strips were cut landscape or portrait?
  • whether the strips were shaped oblong or circular?
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The 50 CUP Challenge…

This week in info lit the grade fours were set the STEM challenge of building the tallest tower they could with just 50 plastic cups. They worked in teams of three and had 30 minutes to complete the task as many times as they wanted to. It was interesting to watch how the structures changed as time went by… Their initial towers started out skinny and tall until they all realised they were too wobbly, they then got wider, rounded but weren’t very tall. The fours all learnt quickly they needed to have a solid base, a sturdy or strengthened middle core before height could be added. The noise level was pretty loud, with the discussion, laughter and excitement and then of course there was the competition. Photos were taken along the way and each group had to complete a pic collage showing what they had achieved and learnt.

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4FJ wanted to take if further so it became boys vs girls. 4FJ is a very competitive grade and bragging rights go to the BOYS this time 🙂

Photo 15-03-2016 12 47 52 pm Photo 15-03-2016 12 44 39 pm

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