Fantastic Plastic Workshops

I recently ran a serious of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) workshops for a local primary school. They focused on the Engineering Process (As outlined by this Crash Course Kids video) and the problem of finding a solution to how to sort plastic for recycling. The overall objective was to be aspirational and to challenge students to think about jobs in STEM in the future.

The Engineering Process

The Engineering Process, as outlined for these workshops, is:

  1. Define the problem;
  2. Do your research;
  3. Develop a possible solution;
  4. Design your solution;
  5. Build a prototype;
  6. Test it; and
  7. Evaluate your solutions.

The workshops covered the engineering process upto ‘Design your solution’.

The Workshop Sequence

There were four workshops all up, of 50 minutes each, structured as follows:

  • Workshop #1: Introduce Plastic and investigate it’s material properties and understand student concepts on density. Explore density;
  • Workshop #2: Explore density and one way to determine the density of objects (Density tower). Build the density tower;
  • Workshop #3Explore density and one way to determine the density of objects (Density tower). Determine density of different plastics. Determine density of random objects in the classroom. Density handout for this workshop is also required; and
  • Workshop #4: Design a solution to sorting plastic for recycling.

The sequence could easily be developed into a unit that covered the concept of density (Australian Curriculum key learning area of Science), plastic recycling (Australian Curriculum Cross Curriculum: Sustainability) and engineering (Australian Curriculum key learning area Technology).

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