Using STEM for the Playground

Toward the end of last school year, our 4th grade team at my school began to think of an end-of-the-year STEM project that would be a larger benefit to the school and have a more lasting impact than just something for our students to create and then tear down in a couple weeks. We decided to have our students build a 9-square-in-the-air game for our school’s playground.

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There were several parts to this project which covered a couple of weeks. First, we introduced the students to what the game was through showing a short youtube video. Next, students had to research the rules to the game, and come up with some ways it might be adjusted for younger students. They also had to figure out the dimensions of the structure. We then gave students straws and twisty ties. They had to create a miniature model of the 9-square structure to scale. Then, students did research on what supplies and materials we would need to build the structure full-scale, as well as how much the materials would cost.

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Once the students had researched and figured everything out, we ordered the PVC pipes to the correct length and the correct number of joints for the corners. The materials actually didn’t arrive until the day school was out for the year, so we saved the assembly part until the beginning of this year. We pulled the 5th grade students, our 4th graders last year, and took them outside to have them assemble the 9-square structure. They were so happy to see their hard work, planning, and research come to fruition! It has been a popular recess game ever since!

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