As a culminating activity to their recent study of early New York State Native American tribes, fourth-graders in Sarah Kane and Allison Gerbert’s class constructed small shelters similar to those used by the Iroquois and Algonquin Indians.
The students worked in groups to create longhouses and wigwams using materials they found outside, such as sticks and leaves. They were also given glue, pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks and a list of rules they had to follow to complete the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) challenge. Before they began construction, students filled out a STEAM lab, which asked the fourth-graders to identify the science behind the challenge and instructed them to research their structure. Mrs. Kane said the activity allowed students to work collaboratively with each other and to truly grasp the material they learned.
“The project gave students an understanding of how innovative these people were,” Mrs. Kane said. “They had no manmade tools, and there were no stores to purchase supplies. They created their shelters with their bare hands.”