Families Meet STEM

All the students in our school are girls. When I entered the classes, I realized that their engineering skills were very weak, and they also had difficulty in fulfilling the assigned tasks. They were also weak at working together. Thinking that there might be a disadvantage brought by the distance education process, I spent a period of time doing various activities (group work, simple challenges…). However, when I met with the families of the students, I realized that the problems did not seem to be solved only with the activities held at school. I thought why not do STEM studies with families. I planned the event in two stages. In the first place, we held an event with the girls and their fathers. In the second stage, we held an event with mothers and daughters. As I worked with different family members in the stages, I differentiated the activities and purposes.

Stage 1 : Fathers and daughters meet STEM

Goals of our activity:

  1. Due to some norms coming from our culture, communication between fathers and daughters in the family is generally insufficient. Fathers are often left in the background in child education. With this activity, I wanted to observe the communication between fathers and their daughters and improve the interaction between them.
  2. I wanted to show that activities can be done using simple materials for fathers who want to spend time with their daughters but do not know how. I also thought that they would be encouraged to come up with their own ideas.
  3. I wanted to ensure that father and daughters communicate correctly with each other in order to do a task together.
  4. I aimed to raise awareness of both fathers and students about STEM.

Their activity: Ball Launcher Challenge https://www.sciencebuddies.org/teacher-resources/lesson-plans/ball-launcher-engineering-challenge

Materials

Materials: silicone gun, ping pong ball, cardboard, glue types, string, rubber, tongue stick, cardboard cup,

I chose a criterion to identify the successful ones: Fathers will throw the ball with the thrower and their children will try to catch the ball.

They drew their designs first and they constructed them. They tried their designs with their daughters.

You can watch the fathers and daughters in the videos below.

Stage 2: Mothers and daughters meet STEM

In our country, mothers usually spend a lot of time with their daughters. But they usually spend time doing chores such as cooking and cleaning. With this activity, I wanted to make mothers realize that they can have a great time doing STEM with their daughters, and that they can also develop their daughters’ creativity.

Goals of our activity:

1-To enable mothers to spend time with their daughters by doing Stem activities.

2-To develop the engineering skills of both mothers and daughters.

3-To teach to work with limited time and materials. (I specifically added this criterion because I knew that the mothers of the students made the students do activities without limiting the material and time. I wanted to make them realize that limiting time and material can improve their creativity more.)

Egg drop challange: https://www.msichicago.org/science-at-home/hands-on-science/egg-drop-challenge/

I changed this challenge a little bit. By designing a parachute, they released their designs from the school balcony. There were two criteria I looked at:

1-The landing time of the eggs (stopwatch was kept for this).

2- The robustness of the eggs (looking at the eggs).

First they drew their designs on paper. Then they did a few tries. Last, they let the parachutes fall one by one, I kept time with a stopwatch.

https://res.cloudinary.com/dwsko2in5/video/upload/v1651700111/stem/yumurtalı_1_mlan9r.mp4

We removed the eggs inside the parachutes and released the parachutes from the school window.

https://res.cloudinary.com/dwsko2in5/video/upload/v1651699607/stem/yumurtas%C4%B1z_p5zzyr.mp4

Final review: Both families and students enjoyed the activities very much. The interaction between fathers and mothers also increased (they started to meet as a family). Also, both mothers and fathers said that they had returned to their childhood, albeit for a short time. Seeing the good feedback from families, I decided to continue these activities in the coming years.

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