Activity Introduction

Quick summary: STEM learning can be undertaken using many different materials in early learning. Using LEGO or larger connecting bricks is a wonderful way to create a vibrant STEM experience. In this lesson the children use LEGO to build a balloon-powered car. They see forces in action and take part in an active building challenge. Children explore design through hands-on building and troubleshooting. An important part of STEM learning is for children to try things out to see what works. This process often leads to making adjustments or redesigns, both of which are vital critical thinking skills. This activity is a great way to focus on problem solving skills using STEM.

Learning intentions:

  • Children understand force and motion
  • Children develop creativity through participating in a design challenge
  • Children develop problem solving skills
  • Children work collaboratively
  • Children persist and troubleshoot challenges.

21st century skills:

 

EYLF Learning Outcome

Elaborations

Outcome 4: Children are involved and confident learners

1. Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.

2. Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, enquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.

3. Children transfer and adapt what they have learned from one context to another.

4. Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.

Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators

1. Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes.

 

Topic: STEM/STEAM, Creative Thinking

Unit of work: STEM Challenges — Early Learning

Time required: 50 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium to High. The educator will need to set up the STEM challenge and assist the children in conducting the activity. The early childhood educator role shifts to being a side-by-side learner in this activity once the children begin to build and test their car.

Resources required:

  • Balloons – one per group
  • LEGO or connecting bricks
  • Marker
  • Masking tape
  • One to three arched bricks
  • Tape measure
  • Wheel sets – four wheels for each group.

Related Professional Development: Practical Steps For STEM Inquiry. Introduction To Early Learning STEM.

Keywords: STEM, STEAM, early learning, LEGO, connecting bricks, building, design challenge, design, balloon, wind-powered, car, wheels, force, motion, physics.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Worksheets

Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will…

  • … learn about force and motion using STEM
  • … develop creativity through participating in a design challenge
  • … develop problem-solving skills
  • … build and design a vehicle using connecting bricks.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … think creatively in response to a design brief
  • … work collaboratively
  • … persist and trouble-shoot challenges.

Teacher content information: This LEGO design challenge can introduce many different STEM concepts to the children. Children design a moving vehicle from wheels and connecting bricks. They then observe how wind (coming from a balloon) can create the force needed to power their vehicle. 

The STEM learning in this lesson is defined as:

  • Science: The physical force and motion that the car uses
  • Technology: The use of the blocks to create the car and the wheel design
  • Engineering: The construction of the design when creating the car
  • Maths: Measuring how far the car trave
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