Parkdale B.A.S.E. Daycare: Solar Motorized Crane Creation in New Engineering Program

Jodi Schwartz, B.A.S.E. Animator

Engineering for Everyone is a new program that Animator Jodi Schwartz has put together for the English Montreal School Board’s Before and After School Enriched (B.A.S.E.) Daycare Program.

About the Program: Children have begun exploring solar powered vehicles, structure and stability, marble mazes, a roller coaster of recyclables and even a ping pong ball pathway, and there is much more to come! They will design, build and invent structures – as well as machines – in a collaborative environment that fosters teamwork. The main goal is to allow their creativity and design skills to flourish through fun and educational activities, while encouraging students to work with their peers on projects that allow them to explore how things work from an engineering perspective. Children will acquire important life skills, express themselves through open-ended activities and work as a team in a collaborative setting. This program will foster the children’s thirst for knowledge. Students will develop mechanical skills, learn about how structures are designed and built and learn about famous structures. By the end of these ten consecutive weeks, the children will be more informed about the engineering basics needed to better understand the world around them. People retain information more effectively by directly (physically and mentally) engaging in an activity versus passively listening to someone talk about a subject (in this case, engineering concepts). In this program, students will learn through hands-on activities, putting their skills to the test and inventing more new constructions than they may have ever thought possible.

Creating a Solar Motorized Crane Creation: On the extremely cold winter morning of Thursday, February 28, 2019, Parkdale B.A.S.E. daycare students from Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 6, including those with special needs, participated in the Engineering For Everyone program in order to create a motorized crane creation.

Ms. Jodi taught students about what cranes are and how they use motors and heavy machinery to move large objects on construction sites that are too heavy and large for people to lift unaided. She explained that together the class would be building and decorating our own functional crane by attaching a mini-motor along with a solar panel in such a way that the string would be able to move and lift small objects. Much collaboration and compromise was involved in the crane’s creation. The children were given recyclable supplies such as paper towel rolls, egg cartons, cardboard, popsicle sticks of all sizes, string, scissors, glue and crayons. They utilized their imaginations and together came up with an innovative way to use regular materials.

After building was complete, each child had a chance to hold and use the lamp (housing an incandescent bulb) to mimic the sun’s rays to channel electricity through the solar panel into the mini motor. As the motor rotated, the attached string wound itself around the peg of the motor and coiled, thereby making the string lift a pink pipe cleaner (symbolizing a crane’s basket) at the end of the arm of the crane. As the string rose, children squealed with delight, and through this activity they were able to visualize how a crane works.

When given the opportunity, children’s creativity is limitless! Mini-engineers, keep designing and build on!

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