Fourth graders at Jacksonville Country Day School were recently challenged to create an invention to help Latin American children learn English. It couldn’t just be an idea; the concept had to be something that they could make using the tools in the makerspace.
The project was part of a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) unit. The teams, each comprised of four students, designed, and then realized, games, videos, 3D printed items, robots, animals made from recycled materials, and websites to help other children learn English.
Once finished with their inventions, the students were proud to share with parents, teachers, and administrators. The 4th grade students presented their ideas in the Shark Lab to parents, siblings, and other students as part of the STEM Expo. During their presentations, the students discussed the challenges they had to overcome in realizing their working models.
One example of a project was a Pac-Man that translates English through headphones. The students sewed the Pac-Men on the sewing machine in the makerspace and then integrated electronics into the educational toy.
“This challenge helped to improve their problem solving and teamwork skills, in addition to pride in knowing that they can make turn an idea into a reality,” Science Specialist Shannon Johnson said about the projects.
At first, many of the students had ideas that were beyond the resources available so they had to scale back to what was actually achievable. They also learned how to compromise, which can sometimes be difficult for children. Teamwork helped them to rise above the challenges that initially had some students dismayed.