RAFT Activity Kit: Static Merry-go-Round

Monday, June 29, 2015

Helping Students Understand the Engineering Design Process

Did you know NASA has created their Beginning Engineering Science and Technology (BEST) lessons to help K-8th grade students understand the Engineering Design Process?  The Engineering Design Process is a series of steps engineers use to guide them in problem solving. Engineers must ask a question, imagine a solution, plan a design, create that model, experiment and test that model, then take time to improve the original – all steps that are crucial to mission success at NASA.



Throughout the Building a Satellite to Orbit the Moon and Launching a Satellite activities, the emphasis is for students to understand that engineers must “imagine and plan” before they begin to build and experiment. To successfully complete the NASA BEST Activities, students must draw their ideas first before constructing. Students transform into NASA Scientist and Engineers as they create their own satellites using a cardboard tube and general building supplies including buttons, bubble wrap and aluminum foil. Then students must build a balloon powered rocket to launch their satellite. These highly engaging and multifaceted hands-on learning experiences are aligned with the Common Core State Standards and can be used to support core content curriculum in the areas of math, science, and language arts.

Visit RAFT for their incredible assortment of materials for NASA BEST Activities and general building supplies. 

NASA BEST Lesson Guide

Article by: Mera Burton-STEM Engagement Specialist- AERO Institute/ NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Making Toys From Recycled Material



RAFT was founded on the idea that extra materials should not be wasted, and instead, should be used to help children explore their creative abilities while learning. Many teachers use RAFT’s recycled materials to help solidify this idea – creating lesson plans that meet state standards, while engaging students in fun and inspiring ways.


Michele Guieu teaches art at the Montalvo Arts Center and specializes in multi-cultural and multi-media art. Michele pulls inspiration from her childhood in France and travels through Africa, giving her a unique view into societal influences such as global and environmental issues. Michele shapes these issues into meaningful pieces of art – through video, painting, photography, and elaborate installations.


In my art and through my teaching I am sharing my views and concerns about environmental issues. I engage the public and my young students to reflect, collaborate and create,” says Michele. Michele’s passion for the environment has been the driving factor for teaching her students with recycled materials.


Michele recently teamed up with RAFT to incorporate recycled and upcycled material into her art workshops for both children and teachers:

“This particular workshop, “Making a Toy From Recycled Material,” is about learning how to use one object to make another one. We as a society use a lot of things only once. For a lot of people around the world that is not the case. What if we had to recycle our materials to make other objects? Many children around the world cannot buy toys at the store and are making toys from recycled material. It is something children in our country were doing a long time ago (Native Americans and early settlers).”
 

Michele's workshops are also aligned with Common Core State standards 3-5-ETS1 Engineering Design and 5th grade-ESS3.A Natural Resources.



 
If you would like to see more of Michele’s art and lesson plans, please visit her blog.