Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Magic of Math + Maker Night! Project Explore- Flynn Elementary

Last night at Flynn Elementary, my fifth grade students helped put on the annual school Math Night, with an artsy, high tech twist! A maker event is an opportunity to learn about science, technology, engineering, art, and math through making hands-on projects that blur the traditional boundaries.  As I have written about here, I was lucky to attend a similar event at RES, and knew my students would love it. Back in October I worked at the Champlain Valley Mini Maker Faire, and know that these are the elements that help students (and families!) connect the dots in their learning.

What a night!  Major wow factor.

Over two hundred people attended- Flynn families, friends, and prospective families as well.  More than two dozen community volunteers- including people from the Society for Women Engineers, UVM, IBM, and Vermont State Science Fair's president Tricia Finkle- came to support students and Flynn teaching colleagues in making this event happen.

Students made just over one hundred magic wands! 
(Watch out for all the wizards, fairies, and sorcerers now in our midst!)

Adding ribbons, practicing spells, and learning a little circuitry, too (Photo credit Fritz Senftleber)
Preparing for this event has been quite a marathon.  Ordering supplies, prepping boxes for tables, writing pamplets, and making long to-do lists has been a part-time job itself for the last couple of months, building up in my dining room.

The thirteen fifth grade students have been working since December to not only learn, but to learn to teach, all of the skills at their stations.  These young teachers arrived early, worked hard, and were extremely proud.  Each student was supported by a Flynn staff member as well as a community volunteer at their station. Some stations needed five or six people to keep up with the demand!

At the Jitterbot table, where you could barely belly-up all night

Fifth grade students stayed very calm and cool as they wielded glue guns, scissors, and wire cutters to help the endless sea of participants of all ages and all abilities.

My students are in the yellow hats (Photo credit Fritz Senftleber)

Students ran even more stations, including marshmallow toothpick prisms...
Whoa, how many marshmallow vertices has that shape got?!
Balloon races...
After experimenting, it turned out that these long wavy balloons provided the most power

and Hexaflexagons.

Cardboard Creations.

And many more! LED light strip programming, Scratch programming in the computer lab, origami.

It was really marvelous how many people supported this batty idea to add a Maker element to this year's Math Night, and it could not have happened without all of the amazing teachers, students, and volunteers who showed up to staff tables in the gym.  But meanwhile, in the library, there were even more fun activities in store for families- estimation jars, Lego building, and card games.
Playing 99 (Photo credit Fritz Senftleber)

Thank you most of all to the families who have shared their thirteen fifth graders with me, who brought their students early to the event, and who have supported them in their journey through all parts of this experience. Your students are so proud of themselves, and I hope you as proud as I am too!
(Photo credit Fritz Senftleber)
Favorite thing said to me all night, by a Kindergartener:
"Did you know that when you do Squishy Circuits, you are actually doing math too?  Not just science and art? Because when you do it you have to count the volts, and match them to your battery, so you have power."  Kid, you got the power.
Keep bridging your thinking and learning across subject matter kids, and you'll do anything you dream.


  1. This was a great event! Thank you so much for all you've done with the Project Explore kids, and for sharing it on this blog.

    1. Thank you for coming! It was wonderful to see so many students and families at the event, and I am so grateful for all of the volunteers who made the night possible!