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201 W. Mifflin Street
Madison, WI


Bubblering (bəb(ə)lər-ing) verb: to tinker, to make, to explore, to learn; allowing creativity to bubble to the surface

Tubes & Tunnels

Bubbler Intern

This week in STEM club, we explored the technology of tubes & tunnels. Kindergartners explored the ability to connect tubes in various ways that would allow them to make tunnels for pingpong balls, pompoms, rice, and wooden beads to roll through. Tunnels create strategic pathways, but can also have unexpected twists and problems to trouble shoot.


Facilitator Question  

In today's open-ended workshop, facilitators asked kiddos our maker question #2: "What does it do?/What is it's purpose?" and got some awesome responses. Asking kids to state a purpose makes them reflective of the design choices they have made, as well as focus an intention as they refine or remake their designs. It also helps create narratives around their play, using their imagination and getting them talking to each other. 

Materials we used: 

  • Packing tubes, paper towel & toilet paper tubes (some reinforces with duct tape) 
  • Masking tape 
  • 1.5 inch pvc pipe in 12" & 18" sections 
  • 1.5 inch pvc connector joints (various) 
  • ping pong balls, wooden beads, pompoms, matchbox cars 
  • rice & trays for catching 
  • suction cups 

What we read

Today we read It's only Stanley by Jon Agee & Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett. I love how Stanley engineers himself a rocket ship with the specific goal of meeting his poodle friend on the moon. It lets us talk about intentions and ideas without losing the whimsy of imagination of what our make up contraptions can do. Sam & Dave's tunnels take many interesting twists and turns before its surprise ending, starting a great conversation about connections and angles. 


One of my fabulous colleagues Carissa Christner has been working with the creators of Anji Play to design drop in play experiences at her library. I love the Anji Play model and the authentic way they ask the kids to reflect on their experiences by writing or drawing a play story. I have started implementing play stories into STEM club with"observation" sheets with a lot of success. We have an observation station set up in the room and kids are invited to draw their experiments (and whatever else they want!) and tell us about them. These are displayed in the library outside my office after our time together. 

Weights & Balances

Bubbler Intern

This week in STEM club, we experiments with weight and balance. Kindergartners explore the concept of counter weights by adding pipe cleaners and pop-tops to popsicle sticks to allow them to balance on their fingers. This idea carried over to how our arms and hands allow us to counter balance our bodies when keeping out balance, and to our seesaw scales as we compared the weight of different objects. We also explored how the height of a tower effects it ability to balance as we stacked rocks and blocks. 

Facilitator Question 

Today we had a lot of failure opportunties with balance. (Balancing is HARD!) So our facilitators focused on the question of "What could you do differently?" This allowed for the reflection on a past iteration and expressing intentionality about the next iteration. It also encouraged our kiddos to try again and problem solve, but with such engaging and physical challenges they needed little encouragement for a second try. 

Materials we used 

  • Landscaping Rocks 
  • Pipe cleaners, poptops, popsicle sticks 
  • foam blocks 
  • Children's balances 
  • See saw style scales 
  • Materials to weigh (washers, paperclips, beads, rocks, pompoms) 

What we read 

This week we read Look! by Jeff Mack and Balancing Act by Ellen Stoll Walsh. The kids loved the funny antics of Look! which lead into a great conversation of what it was possible to balance (a popsicle stick on your finger?) and what we could do to make it easier. We also spent a lot of time trying to balance on 1 foot, our hands, our head?! 


Most of our kids today drew pictures of their popsicle balancer. There was a TON of pride and fascination in making the stick balance on their tiny fingers.