I’ve yet to meet a single child who didn't love going on treasure hunts.
There’s something empowering and exciting about searching a space and making discoveries.
This one has (almost) all the fun of an Easter egg hunt...without the sugar crash. Plus, there’s absolutely no set up required. As an added bonus—it increases children’s STEAM skills by enhancing their observation skills, encouraging their curiosity about how things are made (which, ultimately is what physics is all about), and depending on how the teacher frames it, their understanding of simple machines. It’s a win-win-win-win-win (I think I counted that right).
As with everything on this site, there are millions of ways you could choose to approach this exercise and it will de-pend entirely on what you want the children to get out of the experience, but here’s one way to approach going on a screw hunt:
As an introduction to an exploration of simple machines:
- Ask children questions about what they already know about screws – support their thinking and add information as needed.
- Show children several real screws and perhaps some images or real examples of things like hinges, locks, and brackets.
- Ask children to guess how many screws are in your classroom (STEAM bonus points for making a graph of their answers!).
- It’s time to hunt!
Encourage children to look everywhere to find as many screws as they can in the classroom. You might even give them stickers or little post-it notes to put on the screws so you can count all the screws in the room and compare what you find to your graph.
It’s a great idea for you to participate in this. Model hunting for screws in sneaky places by opening doors and drawers, looking under tables, etc.
The children are likely to be shocked by how many screws there are. (It might even surprise you!) They’re simply everywhere!
This activity is a great introduction to physics, woodworking, simple machines, homes, buildings, construction…or a host of other things.
One of the things that we love about this exercise is that it helps children develop observation skills. In many ways, observation is a pillar of the practice of science and it takes both patience and lots of practice. This experience helps children develop those observation skills.
It’s also fantastic because children are often astonished to discover how important screws are. They hold our world together and it’s exciting for children to discover them all over the place.