Our Science and Innovation Lab at Aldrin Elementary School this week was a good illustration of how we blend science with 21st Century Social and Emotional Life Skills. Our science activities explored the dynamics of air and flight. Students had a rare opportunity to play with a Wind Tunnel. Their goal was to create a craft that would balance the downward pull of gravity with the upward push of air molecules.
The activity was also a design challenge, and students had free creative reign in designing their craft. Student designs ranged from ghosts to airplanes, and almost everyone succeeded in getting their craft to hover or move more slowly up or down in the Wind Tunnel. We also played with paper helicopters and added and removed weight to observe how their spin and speed varied as they fell to the ground. Several students also continued learning how to use the 3-D Design Software, SketchUp.
The Wind Tunnel is fun and exciting, but is also a good opportunity to discuss self-control and self-regulation. We introduced a tool called the “Mood Meter,” which helps children recognize and understand their moods and take positive action to deal with negative emotions. The mood meter has two axes: one for high/low Energy and one for positive/negative Feelings. We talked about how negative emotions occur when children feel sad and/or have high energy. We also discussed the importance of acknowledging our feelings and taking steps to control . We brainstormed ways to move to more positive quadrants of the Mood Meter – such as yoga, breathing, or “vegging out” to reduce energy levels and laughing, talking to others, or doing something fun as ways to feel happier.
To help children relax we brought in Kinetic Sand, which is mixed with a polymer. It moves very slowly is a good tool for calming children. Many of the students remarked that they loved the sand and felt good or calm while using it. This combination of tools from STEM and 21st Century SEL Skills is all part of our successful recipe for Compassionate Innovation!