SYRACUSE — Syracuse Elementary School held their second annual SES Maker Faire. Children from kindergarten to fifth grade participated and created their own inventions which made the school a fun environment for project-based learning opportunities. This gave kids the chance to stretch their brains and explore their imaginations. Last year, only the kindergarten participated until Instructional Coach Jared Knipper decided to expand the faire to the whole school.
Parents and grandparents with kids swarmed the hallways and classrooms of the school, eager to see what creations their child and other children built. Each classroom agreed on an overall idea for their project and then left the kids to their individual imaginations, such as making their own small versions of the Indy 500 floats to display in the hallway or constructing an electric circuit design with the knowledge of insulators and conductors.
“This is just a great way to showcase and see what the kids have learned,” commented Knipper. “It’s a chance for them to demonstrate what they’ve done. Other than providing the supplies, everything is 100% done by them. They’re learning about engineering and problem solving. They’re being prepped for jobs that don’t even exist yet but probably will by the time they graduate.”
Teachers were enthusiastic to get to work on their projects and excited to see what the kids would come up with. Some classrooms put in a joint effort with their teachers, by identifying a problem that they would experience and then being helped process their idea. Such an example could be found in Paige Keim’s second grade class. The class found that it was difficult to read on their ipads when they kept flopping or sliding around.
Keim’s class then came up with the idea to make ipad holders to cancel out the problem. The kids made various designs and prototypes before sending the design on the computer to a special program, which would then be saved to a USB drive and inserted into the 3D printer. The designs required measurements and math to work well.
Lego robots was another structured program that was worked on by Todd Lucas’s second grade class. The lego robots came in sets and had instructions to follow. It wasn’t just about building something with legos, it was also understanding the programming system and being able to operate them so they would run successfully.
Other interesting projects included students creating prosthetic limbs and hands, though both in two different classes. They researched the uses and articulations of prosthetics to build prototypes. The class that worked specifically on creating prosthetic kids hands challenged themselves to create and use the 3D printer so they could be mailed to an organization where the hands would be given to people who need them. This kind of imaginative technological thinking will make kids more adaptable to changes in science and engineering.
There were other projects that didn’t revolve around technology as much, but still required unique construction and planning. Projects like creating marble runs out of recycled products and desk decor to make a fun, organized work space to learn in. Many of the class projects had shown teachers how well children can work together and support one another.
Along with the maker faire, many bookshelves were set up through the school with free books for kids to take home. Since the elementary school will be moving, it was a good way to cycle the books out to those who wanted them and make room for new books next year.