Earlier this week we attended a STEM fair. It’s the third ‘fair’ we have attended now having previously attended a Geography fair and a history fair. I’d asked the children what they wanted to do their project on, and they were keen to look at electricity. D has a snap circuits set that he likes to play around with so it was an obvious choice for us to look at it in more detail.
We first decided to have a think about what uses electricity in our house, and the children soon came up with lots of things – it did strike me during this conversation how some of their answers were different to what mine would have been at the same age (notably things like WIFI, the iPad and my mobile!). Anyhow, they soon identified lots of things and we talked about how life would have looked like when our house was first built in the 1800’s. This then led to watching some YouTube videos that demonstrated how washing clothes would have taken place and the such. The children found this really interesting.
We then moved on to reading a couple of books we had picked up from the library, one of which talked about the first thoughts on electricity and covered ideas such as atoms etc. We learnt about Benjamin Franklin’s Kite experiment where he learnt more about static electricity produced by lightning and we talked about how Galvani had some theories about electricity in dead frogs and how they weren’t quite correct, but that this did lead on to other discoveries.
I wanted to work with their interests on the snap circuits so using a couple of resources from Twinkl we looked at circuit symbols. I used this Circuit Symbols Word Mat and this worksheet to get them looking at how those symbols translated into an actual circuit. We then made some ‘challenge cards’ which we intended to take along to ask other attendees to build the circuits using the snap circuits (but I forgot to pick them up). We had fun making circuits up and then drawing them out and I think D took a lot away from this.
We also took a look at the ‘electric lemon’ experiment which sees you use four lemons to power an LED light. This is quite impressive but the children weren’t quite as impressed as I was with this one! It’s a simple experiment to set up and we took it along with us to the STEM fair.
D wrote about the Electric Lemon experiment and drew the circuit out using the circuit symbols and he typed up some other bits he has learnt too.
On the day of the STEM fair, we put up our display board along with the snap circuits and the Electric Lemon experiment for others to look at and then had a wander around to see what other displays there were.
I always find it really interesting to see what other people have looked at and how they have approached their projects. Some of our friends did projects on magnets which E had lots of fun playing with, others did theirs on the water cycle (see more here) and bees and others took on huge topics such as Archimedes complete with working Archimedes screw and tangrams and model ships. You can see more of this project here on Instagram.
We also had a visit from a robotic K9 and the children had a ball playing with robots and looking at space demos and constellations. It was a fantastic way to spend the morning and the children took so much from it.
Next up for us ‘fair’ wise is the Arts & Crafts fair in (I think!) June so we are going to pick that up in May. In the meantime, we have a mini project on the go about endangered animals and I am hoping to start the Sassafras Science curriculum next week – I’m just awaiting a delivery of a couple of books.
I think I’ve learnt that having projects like this on the go helps us all feel a bit better and certainly keeps the children’s minds occupied. It’s nice to have something to ‘do’ and fall back on inbetween the other activities that we do and getting out to meet friends.
Do you follow a project-based approach in your home education?