I have a Fun Friday video for you of a young man named Audri and his very complex Rube Goldberg contraption. Audri was 7 when he made this video, and aspires to one day study robotics at MIT. I have no doubt that he will achieve all of his dreams! If you feel like playing a virtual Rube Goldberg game, you can head on over to Goldburger to Go at PBS Kids.
To get my students’ creative juices flowing, I allowed them to choose from some Easter S.C.A.M.P.E.R. prompts this week. (I also offered some Spring prompts for those who don’t celebrate Easter). If you are not familiar with S.C.A.M.P.E.R., you can view my original post about it here. The two most popular prompts were for “Rearrange” and “Combine”. The first asked, “If Easter was rearranged so the Easter Bunny would get gifts instead of you, what would you give the rabbit who already has all of the carrots he needs?” And for the second one, “Give the Easter Bunny another famous character as a partner, and tell how his or her talents could be helpful to the Easter Bunny.”
You can borrow the above prompts if you like, or if you would like the whole Easter Creative Thinking packet, you can download it here for a $1.00. You can also find the Spring one and the Summer Pool Party one at my TPT store.
I originally found this on KB Konnected, and made the mistake of trying it out. I immediately knew it would make a good Fun Friday post, but I was so engrossed in playing the game that I never got around to writing about it. So, here it is, finally. What I love/hate about this game is that there are no instructions, and it gets increasingly more difficult. It’s great for encouraging logic and problem/solving. Duck: Think Outside the Flock is flash-based, so you probably can’t access it on an iOS mobile device unless you try using something like Rover.
Fantastic Contraption is my link for you for this Fun Friday – which is particularly fun, because our district’s Spring Break begins tomorrow! This website reminds me a bit of the Bubble Ball app for iOS. Kids who like to build and problem solve will enjoy this site. This is a great way to emphasize the importance of mistakes, and how we can learn from them. There is an option to pay for the full version ($10), but I was completely satisfied with the free version. I thought the tutorials were very helpful, so definitely encourage your students to walk themselves through those. Many gifted students will skip immediately to the hard levels, get frustrated by their difficulty, and quit. Remind them that starting from the beginning is not a sign of weakness!
By the way, I would like to congratulate Cindy and mitzif, who commented on my Write about This post, and won app codes for the full version! (Brad was kind enough to offer an extra one.) If you haven’t had a chance to check out Write about This, and you happen to be on Spring Break next week, too, you should take a moment to try it out!
My second grade gifted and talented students are currently studying bridges. We have been using the PBS Building Big site, which has some great interactive labs and suggested classroom activities. We have also been using the K’Nex Bridges kits, and will be exploring the “Bridge that Gap” challenge (Here are some other K’Nex Challenges). There is also a Structures Curriculum packet that is a free download from K’Nex. Here you can find a great compilation of famous bridges. One of my favorite new resources, though, is a pair of iPad apps that allow the students to learn about different materials and types of bridges by making their own and testing them. They are very similar. One is called, “Bridge Constructor Playground.” This one gives a tutorial that slowly introduces the different types of materials and methods. Users can build virtual bridges and test them with cars and trucks. What I like about this app is that you can have many different answers for each phase. What I don’t like about the free version is that it has an advertisement between each level. (The kids quickly learned to hit the “x” every time, though. ) The other app is merely called, “Bridge Constructor.” In this one, you are given different scenarios and budgets for your designs, and must stay within those constraints to meet the challenge. There is a free version of this app, as well, and it did not appear to have as many ads as the “Playground” version did.
We are going to add some depth and complexity to our lesson by talking about multiple perspectives and the ethics of building bridges. The 2nd graders truly seem to be enjoying this portion of our “Structures” unit, and we may have a hard time moving on!
“Clockwork Brain” is a fun, free app for iDevices. Sprocket, the robot, gives easy instructions for each of the mini-games that come in the free version. Included are:
★ Scrolling Silhouettes: Trains Visual/Spatial Ability
★ Anagrams: Trains Language Processing
★ Missing Tiles: Trains Arithmetic
★ Chase the Numbers: Trains Memory
★ Size Matters (Unlockable Bonus): Trains Visual/Spatial Ability
You can earn access to trials of the other mini-games offered in the “in-app purchases” by collecting tokens within the game. (Be sure to restrict in-app purchases if you do not want your little one to start buying up more game packs.)
The steampunk look differentiates “Clockwork Brain” from other apps of its type. I also like that it is not another “skill and drill” app, and provokes some different types of thinking. If you are really feeling adventurous, you can set the language to something other than your native tongue, and try to learn some new words while you’re playing!