PS 188 received a STEM grant during the 17-18 school year as part of the Brooklyn One Pipeline Engineering Initiative, which provides STEAM instruction to students beginning in elementary school and continuing up to high school. As part of this grant, PS 188 received 3-D printers, a laser engraving machine, and an Engineering Laptop Cart.
Students in our fifth-grade receive instruction and the use of 3-D software. They use TinkerCad to work with 3-D objects on a workplane. Students are encouraged to explore the software before completing a given task. They receive support via teacher instruction, support videos, and software embedded tutorials.
The first project students engaged in was to design an individualized keychain in TinkerCad. The files were then downloaded to STL format and printed on the 3-D printer. Student sanded the keychain lightly and then primed them and painted them with acrylic paint according to their color preference. Keychains were displayed in a showcase for both parents and administration in May, after which students had the chance to take them home.
Students also engaged in a project with a partner where they designed a car from scratch using a chassis, gears, wheels, and a motor. They tested their cars to see how far they travel and how long it took to reach a specific distance.
Then they charted their results in a spreadsheet software and took pictures of their cars to display at the project completion. With a partner they designed a car top cover which was created in TinkerCad and printed on a 3-D printer. After attaching the cover to the car, students tested their cars again to see the effect of their car cover design on speed and distance. Students also used rubber bands on the wheels to test how friction affected their results, thereby incorporating scientific skills and concepts.
Using an inquiry-based approach allows students to test and refine their theories based on results using the trial and error method. This project allows for a “learning as you go” approach which is risk-friendly and encourages students to be creative and inquisitive.
The next project will include students using the engineering laptops to learn other 3-D software such as Fusion 360 and Auto Cad. It is expected that students will continue these skills when they advance to junior high schools, particularly those that are part of the Brooklyn One Pipeline Engineering Initiative.