Let’s honor Black History Month by drawing inspiration from some Black inventors!

This week in STEM, our Voyager-level youths will celebrate Black History Month by selecting a Black inventor to learn about, and will use items found around the makerspace to recreate the inventor’s invention. But first, we will introduce maker notebooks and collaboratively create the guidelines for Voyager STEM.

Activity 1: Introducing Voyager STEM Activity 2: Black Inventors Hall of Fame
Materials
  • 1 copy of a Mini Maker Notebook per student
  • 1 folder per student, in which to keep their various Maker Notebooks
  • 1 large piece of chart paper
  • markers to write on chart paper
  • Mini Maker notebooks
  • Kindles for research
  • To make the invention, can use anything around the Clubhouse, e.g.:
    • Recyclables
    • Cardstock
    • Construction paper
    • Coloring/drawing implements
    • Paper clips
    • Brad fasteners
    • Rubber bands
    • Rulers
    • Binder clips
    • Craft sticks
    • Straws
    • Pipe cleaners
    • Tape
    • Scissors
    • Single hole punches
    • Hot glue
Lesson Flow
  1. Gather materials.
  2. Have a discussion about Voyager STEM with the students ages 9 and up.
  3. Collaboratively establish the expectations for engaging in Voyager STEM and write them on the chart paper.
  4. Have each student sign the chart paper.
  5. Hand out their first Maker Notebooks and the folders in which to store them.
  6. (Note this may not take an entire session)
  1. Gather materials. Bring up this website: https://www.biography.com/people/groups/black-inventors on all the Kindles.
  2. Introduce the challenge: Choose a Black inventor and recreate their invention with anything found in the makerspace.
  3. Finding a picture of the invention may take some searching on the Kindles.
  4. Students should document their making process in their maker notebooks.
  5. This should take a few sessions. At the end, have students present their recreated inventions and what they learned about their inventor to the class.
Goals
  • Establish criteria for participating in STEM as an older youth.
  • Establish routines for portfolio assessment as a maker.
  • Learn about different Black inventors.
  • Explore the design process.
  • Fulfill criteria while staying within constraints.
  • Practice documenting the design process.

Introducing…. Voyager STEM!

For our young makers ages 9 and up, we want to provide a differentiated experience from the younger group (which we’re calling Apprentice STEM). However, we have some additional expectations from these STEM Voyagers—namely that they begin making a portfolio of their creations by documenting them in maker notebooks. If they do not fulfill expectations, they have the option of doing the same activity as the younger (Apprentice-level) youth. This should not be viewed as a punishment, but rather as an additional option if they just don’t feel like documenting or participating in a harder activity that day. This should all come through when you collaboratively create expectations.

Lesson Steps

  1. Gather materials: print a maker notebook for each youth and post a piece of chart paper on the wall.
  2. Have a discussion about Voyager STEM. Explain that STEM Voyagers are older and more mature than the younger youth in Apprentice STEM, and thus they have the privilege of participating in more in-depth activities. However, they need to follow some expectations in order to participate in these activities (otherwise they always have the option of doing the Apprentice activity). Let’s discuss what those expectations should be.
  3. Collaboratively establish the expectations for engaging in Voyager STEM and write them on the chart paper. Some ideas for prompting them:
    • STEM Voyagers should always treat the teacher, their fellow Voyagers, the space, and the materials with respect.
    • STEM Voyagers should always fill out maker notebooks for their projects.
    • STEM Voyagers never give up!
    • STEM Voyagers always clean up after themselves.
    • STEM Voyagers have the option to do the Apprentice-level activity at any time if they want, or if they are deviating from expectations (e.g., if they don’t want to fill out a maker notebook that day).
  4. Have each student sign the chart paper.
  5. Hand out their first Maker Notebooks and the folders in which to store them. Show students how to fold the notebooks. Go over the purpose of the maker notebook: to keep a record of what they create, since besides photos, the actual creation is often lost. It shows what they did and what they learned from it. The website where the Maker Notebook comes from lists the following explanation for the sections:
    • “The front cover  of the notebook has a spot for the student’s name, the date and an area to state the Problem, Need or Question that is being solved.
    • The Design section includes a blank sheet for brainstorming or making a hypothesis. There is graph paper for sketching out the initial design. Students should record the initial thinking that goes into their Maker project.
    • The Make section includes a lined checklist for listing parts, settings and steps in the building process. The blank area allows room for drawing different build attempts, recording measurements and anything else needed to document the build.
    • The Share section includes a space for students to write down what they want others to know about what they made. The blank section allows students to storyboard a tutorial, script an ad or provide data.
    • The back cover gives closure to the project and can serve as an abstract or summary. Students can name their project and illustrate their final design. The back cover includes a lined area for student to write down how what they made solves the problem, fills the need or answers the question posed on the front cover.”
  6. At a minimum, students should write the problem, sketch their design, list the materials they used, and explain on the back cover how their maker project addresses the problem.
  7. (Note this introductory process may not take an entire session, so move on to the next tab when needed.)

Lesson Steps

  1. Gather materials. Bring up this website: https://www.biography.com/people/groups/black-inventors on all the Kindles.
  2. Introduce the challenge: Choose a Black inventor and recreate their invention with anything found in the makerspace.
  3. Finding a picture of the invention may take some searching on the Kindles. If they cannot find a picture, then they are free to imagine what the invention may have looked like, sketch it, and make that.
  4. Students should document their making process in their maker notebooks. Before they begin making, they should show you a sketch and a list of materials they are going to use. It’s okay if their plan changes as they work.
  5. In their maker notebooks, they should at least include the “problem” (i.e., recreate a Black inventor’s invention with materials in the makerspace), a sketch, the materials used, and how their creation fulfills the problem.
  6. This should take a few sessions. At the end, have students present their recreated inventions and what they learned about their inventor to the class.