The bell rings! Hooray!, it is lunch time. Students are excited because it is their day to go to tinker club where there is always a challenge to meet. After students get filled up from eating their lunch they walk into the STEM lab to find straws, newspaper and tape. They are asked to build a bridge with these materials that will span across a specific distance between two tables. That’s challenge one... the second challenge is making the bridge strong enough to hold a book. Students get busy building by rolling up paper, using tape and affixing straws. They start to line up to test their prototype and if they don’t succeed then they get the opportunity to ideate their prototype and try again. This is all part of the engineering process. Although students are learning this process through their STEM classes it is reinforced through the lunch club challenges.
The lunch clubs are a big part of the LASD STEM program. Students have an opportunity to attend lunch club at least once a week. Some of the challenges have consisted of creating musical instruments, zip lines, catapults, oobleck, Rube Goldberg, reverse engineering, egg drop and the list goes on and on…
Students at Loyola put a creative spin on their egg drop challenge this year by hurling them through the air using a sling shot. The students were so excited to see their egg drop vehicles sail through the air in hopes that the egg would land safely.
Fun? Yes! Are the students learning how to persevere through the challenge, collaborate with their peers, build and create? Yes, it is all part of the STEM learning experience.
Here are some responses from students about Lunch Club:
“I get to work with my friends!”
“It's ok if it doesn't work, Mrs. Rafferty even likes it when we fail!”
“Cool stuff happens that we don't get to do in the classroom.”
Kelly Rafferty, the STEM teacher at Santa Rita, said “I like lunch club because it lets me connect with all grade levels every week, even when I am working with their class. I think they feel connected to me and the space as a place where they can try anything, it doesn't have to be perfect and we all love when something doesn't work as planned, because then we get to try again and make things better.”
Lunch clubs are happening at all 7 elementary schools in the STEM labs, 2 to 3 times a week. Many of the schools are doing themes for the month, for example Gardner Bullis’s November theme is “Come Fly Away with Me.” The students will be challenged with rocket building and launching, creating and analyzing Balsa Wood Gliders, and a zip line challenge.
Lunch clubs are not only fun and social, but a learning time for all!
Contributed by Karen Wilson, STEM Coach