After teaching yoga at a public school, I was asked to integrate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) into my school’s curriculum. I was excited for the challenge and interested in how the children would interact with the lessons. After planning my classes, I realized yoga and movement are a perfect compliment to a STEM curriculum! The movement helps children remember terminology in a fun and interactive way. I prefer having the children get out of their chairs and move during the introduction of each lesson. The three main challenges I taught were the Ultimate Tower Challenge, Strong and Sturdy Bridge Challenge, and Aerodynamic Paper Airplanes.
Ultimate Tower Challenge
- 10 pipe cleaners
- 10 craft sticks
- 6 clothespins
Instructions: Students work in teams to build the tallest and strongest tower using the limited materials. First they will draw out a plan for their tower. Then they test out the pipe cleaner tower, noticing the limitations and strengths of the material. Next, they compare their tower with a tower made out of craft sticks and clothespins. Hint: Each clothespin fits more than one craft stick! Test the strength of the tower by balancing books or other supplies on it. Measure the height of the tower. In the end, discuss what worked and didn’t work. Then have the children brainstorm for the future,
Sturdy Bridge Challenge
- Lego Bricks
- crayons (use as weights to check stability)
Instructions: Show the class the video with the various types of bridges including truss, suspension, arch, and beam. You can also show pictures of various bridges. First they will draw out a plan for a strong and sturdy bridge. The children will build the strongest bridge using their Legos. The expectations are that the bridge is strong, stable, and people/cars can go above and below the structure. The children can test out the strength and stability of their bridge by balancing books, crayons, and other items on the bridge. Discuss and plan for next time.
Aerodynamic Paper Airplanes
- Paper Airplane Draft with dotted line folds (for K-2nd graders)
- Extra Paper
Instructions: Show the class the video about aerodynamics introducing thrust, drag, lift, and stability. Ask them if they have ever been on a plane and if they know why a plane can fly straight and far. After they color the airplane, have them try to fold the airplane. If the airplane doesn’t fly the way they want it to, ask them to see what happens if they fold it differently. Discuss attributes of a plane that can fly far and fast and plan for the future!
There are so many fun ways to integrate yoga and movement with STEM! The children enjoy moving and learning in an interesting and interactive way.
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