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When the Fed-Ex truck pulled up and the driver rang our door bell, my son raced to answer the door. He’d been anxiously awaiting the arrival of a cool new construction toy, fischertechnik, since I first shared with him their website the week prior.
My son loves to build and like many children his age is fascinated by robotics and construction. I knew the fischertechnik system was going to grab his attention and pull him into the STEM concepts we have so enjoyed.
Open the World of Technology
fischertechnik is the flexible and innovative construction system built around the unique fischertechnik building block, which allows attachment to all six sides. fischertechnik is used widely in schools around the globe to enable students to explore, hands-on, STEM concepts such as Mechanics, Statics, Pneumatics, Renewable Energies, Electronics, and Robotics.
I am excited to share with you the recently released pair of new products called the fischertechnik Education “Introduction to STEM” I & II. These sets are specifically designed for introducing students in grades 2 thru 5 to STEM concepts and methodology, with the focus on simple machines, and an introduction to robotics and programming.
fischertechnik Introduction to STEM I Kit
Jeffrey immediately began to sort the 500 pieces into the compartments provided within the sturdy storage box (I love this!). As an experienced builder, he knew the time he spent organizing at the start would save time searching for a piece later.
“The pieces are so cool, Mom! They connect on all sides, you can change some around, and they lock in place. These are better than Lego!”
As he continued to sort, I scanned the detailed, full-color 170 page instruction booklet and shared with him some of the projects he could build: a manual transmission, block and tackle, wind turbine, a beam balance, and more.
He was immediately drawn to the merry-go-round, one of the more complicated projects, and construction was soon underway. The Introduction to STEM I Kit is a great introduction to how simple machines work.
Activities & Curriculum
As an educator, one of the things I love best about the Introduction to STEM I Kit is the curriculum. The standards based curriculum provides everything you need to conduct the various lessons; from activity sheets and step-by-step instructions, to rubrics for assessment purposes. For classroom teachers, the education materials are laid out by grade level and establish a quick look at the goals and models to be constructed.
Having traveled quite extensively, we have had the opportunity to observe windmills in many locations (Maui, HI; Tehachapi, CA; San Francisco, CA, and most recently on the island of Mykonos, Greece). The optional project based research activity was the perfect way to integrate Jeffrey’s real-life experiences with STEM concepts.
Windmills transform the motion of the wind into rotary motion that humans use to accomplish work. We discussed the windmills we had observed and how each had been designed for specific work.
The wind turbine project described in the enclosed instruction manual requires students to turn a crank which causes the blades to turn and thereby move wind. The problem is to reverse the energy process from the wind turbine project. Utilizing the education materials I had downloaded as a guide, I challenged him to remove the crank and design a method of attaching gears or pulleys to transfer the power to another device. He loved the challenge!
I am confidant kids will love building the models, performing the activities, and then taking it apart to build another project. Join me next month when I share our experiences with the fischertechnik Introduction to STEM II Kit.