November 10, 2016—During the week of October 31, 5th grade students at Harmony Hill were presented with a challenge: Build a tower with one cup of candy corns and 100 toothpicks. The students from the three 5th grade classrooms were split into small groups to solve the challenge, which also included the following guided instructions:
The students used a planning page and were given five minutes to first write about and/or draw how they would build their tower;
Students were assembled in groups representing each of the three classes and shared their plans. As a group, they then decided which plan would work best, or came up with a newly agreed-on plan;
Students were given 15 minutes to work together to build the tallest tower possible using the materials;
Once finished, students reflected on the challenge, writing about what worked or didn't work and what they might do differently next time.
As a 5th grade team, the goal of the teachers at Harmony Hill is to present similar monthly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities for students. The challenge is just one example of how teachers across the district are working to incorporate critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, curiosity and communication into student learning.