First Grade Force and Motion in the Makerspace

Students in first grade at both Glenvar and Oak Grove used the Makerspace to build hands-on knowledge of force and motion.  They rotated through six centers to investigate and understand Science SOL 1.2:  The student will investigate and understand that moving objects exhibit different kinds of motion. Key concepts include a) objects may have straight, circular, and back-and-forth motions; b) objects may vibrate and produce sound; and c) pushes or pulls can change the movement of an object that moving objects exhibit different kinds of motion.

Maker Center Planning Sheet and Student Reflection

Center 1: Spinning Tops — Circular motion and elapsed time

Prompt: Make a spinning top.  How long does it spin?

Center 2: Air Tube

Make something that will fly.

Center 3: Zipline – pushes and pulls/ straight and circular motion

Design a car that can carry a toy dragon across the room on a zipline.  Explore ways to make the car move smoother and faster.


Center 4: Musical Instrument – Vibration

Create a musical instrument with rubber bands.  Find ways to include higher and lower pitched notes on your instrument.

Center 5:  Racetracks

Build a racetrack.  Experiment with different types of cars, marbles, and balls.  Which ones go faster?  Slower?  Why?

Center 6: Robots On the Move

Make Dash the Robot Move!

 Cross Posted at the Learning Collaboratory.

Hot Wheels Force and Motion

Students in Mrs. Grave’s Fourth Grade Class had fun (while learning) with Hot Wheels cars.  They used the cars to review kinetic energy, potential energy, friction, independent variables, dependent variables, constants, measurement, converting fractions to decimals, and problem solving. Plus they got a jump on 5th Grade Math as the learned to find the average of three measurements

In the activity, they first explored the relationship between the height of the hot wheels trace vs. the distance the car travels.  Then they created their own experiment by changing one variable.  Then, they devised a way to collect their own data and came to a conclusion about the variables in their experiment.

Here are the resources we used:

Design Brief

Learn about Speedometry– FREE Hot Wheels Resources for Teachers

Makerspace Prompt Cards

I’ve been using prompt cards in my Makerspace for a bit now.  I find that they help students, but they also help the teachers who bring the students into the Makerspace too.  Even though teachers at my schools have been trained on how to use the equipment, they often need reminders…and it helps them feel like they have a way to answer student questions.


I prefer using them in Acrylic Sign Holders like these, but they are expensive.  If you trim cards down a bit, they will work in the plastic 8×10 picture frames you can buy for pretty cheap.  They don’t hold up as well, but if you are on a budget, they will work. Another option is to run the cards on tagboard and use sheet protectors.

This packet contains resources to create Makerspace Centers with the following materials:

  • LEDs and Coin Cell Batteries
  • Cubelets
  • Hot Wheel Tracks
  • Little Bits
  • Makey Makey
  • Spheros
  • Dollar Store Fans
  • Squishy Circiuts
  • old toys

Each center contains pictures, simple directions, and QR codes to scan for more info.  You get them on Teachers Pay Teachers here.

Makerspace prompt cards




Welcome to the Teaching with Technology blog. If you are looking for something specific, use the categories to the right to narrow down the topic. You can also use the search button. Or feel free to peruse the archives. If you see something interesting or have any questions, please let me know! :)

Newsela and Blendspace

Newsela — (Grades 2-5) This site provides current event articles on various reading levels (sports, health, science, arts, kids, etc).  Each day there are new articles that you can assign to your class (or read in small groups).  Each article has about 5 different reading levels (by lexile level)…so students can read about the same topic at their own level.  There are quizzes students can take, and best of all, there is a search bar that allows a teacher to search for articles that relate to certain reading skills (Author’s Purpose/Point of View, Text Structure, Central Idea, etc).  It might be another resource to add to the list of ways to engage your students in Reading.
Blendspace — (All Grades) Love, love this resource!  Blendspace allows you to create collections of web resources on a certain topic (videos, websites, pictures, etc).  This resource would be great to use with your students in the computer lab, as a small station within your classroom, or even as a way to organize materials you will present to your students on your Activboard.  You can add quizzes and monitor student progress too, if you want.  There are even tons of lessons already available that you can use immediately with your students. We are going to be encouraging you to move away from Portaportal (due to all the ads), and this is an excellent resource to take its place. :)


I’ve been playing around with the app, Tinkerplay.  I started with my MakerMonday group of students and successfully printed one to the delight of the child who made it!

Then students in our FACES Special Education class designed characters during their Makerspace time.

Finally, I brought in a class of 22 third graders who are reading The Indian and Cupboard.  They designed action figures to place in the cupboard.


From those three trials, here’s what I’ve learned.

  • The smaller the scale, the easier it is for the action figures to break.  I found 75% was perfect.
  • Students can easily be given parameters to keep their figures from getting out of hand.  In the beginning, I had one action figure with 75 pieces!  I limited students on the amount of filament (grams) and the estimated print time.  They had no problem with this.
  • Saving is a bit complicated.  I attached Tinkerplay to our school dropbox account and saved to there.  I found that it automatically named the file with a number based on the time of day it was saved.  That meant, theoretically, if I didn’t clear out the folder before a group began saving the next day, things could get messy.  I also found that it was important to stagger saving so that people didn’t save on top of each other.  One save per minute.  I showed the students how to find the file name after it had saved so they could write it down.  It made it much easier to know whose was whose later.
  • Taking a picture of the finished creation helped students put them together when printing was finished.