Basic Skills Before Big Things

by Michael Porter
When your child is learning to walk, he or she begins with baby steps. For more complex tasks, there are many more “baby steps” to learn before mastery takes place.
In anticipation of the upcoming Deep Dive in the Makerspace for the 2nd graders, Science Specialist Deborah Landon begins with some “baby steps” skills the students will need to develop and construct their projects.
Deep Dive is a week-long immersive experience where the students concentrate on completing a project in art, music, Makerspace, Spanish, library, or social/emotional skills. It provides students the time and opportunity to create something that cannot be done within a conventional class period.

The second grade's project for this Deep Dive will combine design thinking and problem-solving in dealing with the weather. The students will create a model of a possible innovative solution to a problem using a variety of materials such as 3-D paper sculptures. Students will receive more specific instructions as Deep Dive week draws nearer.

When introducing this year's project Ms. Landon told the class they were going to talk about "gross motor skills and fine motor skills.”
This was quickly followed by a discussion of gross referring to the large muscles used in walking, running, throwing, and lifting; not gross as in disgusting! 
Ms. Landon explained to the students that they would be practicing some of their fine motor skills — namely how to use scissors to cut and then fold the paper in particular ways.

First, they practiced making the "pleat" by cutting a strip of paper and folding it accordion-style.
“What does this look like?” she asked the class.
“Stairs!” answered a student. Indeed, this particular paper fold can be used as a basis for a staircase in a paper sculpture.
They went on to create "tabs" and "fringe" on paper by using various cutting techniques modeled by Ms. Landon. These may also come in useful in their paper and cardboard sculptures in the near future.

The second graders are also being introduced to the concept of design thinking by Cristina Knodel, Computer Science and Technology Integration Specialist. Design thinking involves identifying a problem, keeping your audience in mind, and then coming up with a solution to the problem. 
As a practice project, Ms. Knodel had the students think about the characteristics and needs of toddlers, and how a robotic device may help to satisfy some of their needs. The students brainstormed what kind of devices may provide some help for toddlers (or the parents of toddlers.)
After a brief safety demonstration on how to use the electric cardboard cutter and hot glue gun, Ms. Knodel tasked the students to design and begin building a model-size prototype of the device they were proposing. 

“We want our students to learn how to use new tools safely, and to get as much practice as they can before our Makerspace week,” said Ms. Knodel. “They are also working on their teamwork and collaboration skills.”
When their Deep Dive begins in October, the second graders will be well-equipped to use their time well, putting their new skills to practical use.