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Science is Everywhere

There’s a disconnect between what students consider to be “fun” school activities and school “work”. It doesn’t have to be like this though, especially with the right equipment and resources.

You know that science is everywhere, happening in our cells and the world around us. How can you help kids make the connection? Is there some way to show students that stem (science technology engineering and math) can be applied to the curriculum and everyday business decisions? Let’s find out…

Planning for a fundraiser often starts with the question, “We want to raise money, but what are we going to sell?”

This question opens the door for an in-depth scientific experiment right in your maker space or fundraising brainstorming session. The best part is that the end goal isn’t just a lab report that’s typed up and handed in, but a quality product that students can be proud of.

Plus, you’re raising money for the school, on top of it all!

Making the Connection

At ColDesi, we not only make it easy to create customized apparel, but we also know that our printers and machines contain a wealth of science lessons. Let’s say your class has decided on creating designs that they then want to put on T-shirts, using our heat transfer vinyl.

The next 2 questions to ask are, “What’s the design?” and “What kind of T-shirts should we buy?”

The former can include the art department, while the latter opens the door to a unit on the scientific method.

T-Shirts and the Scientific Method

Let’s first start with the science of the materials we have. For shirts, there are the non-science decisions such as long sleeves or short sleeves? Or should we buy v-necks or crew necks?

The science questions look at what the shirt is made of and finding the right artwork for the piece.  Since the process of heat transfer affects different fabrics differently, a great way to start is by testing out 3 different types of common T-shirt fabric:

Cotton



Cotton-Polyester blend



Polyester

Setting It Up

Before any experimentation begins, it’s important to identify what the variables will be. Of course, this is a good opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the equipment they’ll be working with.

Let’s say that one of the controlled variables is the temperature of the heat transfer machine. Students would need to learn how to set the temperature and/or change it for follow-up experiments.

The next variable to consider is the dependent variable or the data that is being collected. How will the results be evaluated? How can you tell if the heat transfer process has changed the shape or texture of the fabric?

Finally, the independent variable will most likely depend on the type of ColDesi machines you have and how many shirts need to be customized for the event.

Just like any successful fundraiser, a good experiment is well thought out, well-planned, organized, and understands what the goal is.

STEM teacher likes DFX t-shirt printing

Experimenting

This is where the fun begins! Your school might only have a ColDesi printer and heat transfer machine or it might have that and the embroidery and rhinestone machine as well. No matter what your setup is like, experimentation is the first step where students start to feel invested in the process.

This sort of mirrors what businesses like to do when they’re first starting out: product research. Before you sell something, you need to know stuff about it… lots of stuff. Important things to know include:

  • Where the product comes from
  • The wholesale price
  • What's it made out of
  • How does it hold up to wear and tear

Another positive that comes from experimenting with T-shirt fabrics and our machines is that this process can inspire slogans and email campaigns. What better way to get people to invest in education than by showing them how applicable good education is to real life.

 

Results

In the end, after all the testing and trial and error, students should have a good idea of what type of T-shirt holds up best in the heat transfer machine.

For teachers who want to treat this fundraising project as a company project, there could be a requirement to write up a short presentation (not a lab report!). This is just like any product researcher who comes back and presents his/her findings to the company.

Other classes may simply choose to have students include what they have learned as part of their “sales pitch” at the fundraiser.

As teachers, you can facilitate this type of inquiry-based learning by asking customer questions, such as:

  • What will happen to the heat transfer logo if the shirt shrinks?
  • The shirt shrinks. Why?
  • Oh, the shirt doesn't shrink. Why?
  • How did you guys get this logo on here?
  • Can you embroider my shirt?
  • Are there fabrics you can’t heat transfer a logo onto?

Why Inquiry-Based Learning?

Inquiry-based lessons work because the inquiry is how we learn in life. As humans, we’re already pretty curious by nature, but to make sense of the world, we must ask questions.

Don’t know the answer to something? Ask a question.

Don’t understand something? Ask a question.

Don’t know what coffee flavor you want? Ask what the bestseller is! 

To apply this type of learning to a fundraising event elevates standard classroom expectations. Why? Because it’s one thing for students to study for a test where they already have an idea what kinds of questions they’ll have to answer. It’s a completely different beast for kids to answer questions on the fly in a quick, confident, and informed way.

Why ColDesi

You’re probably asking yourself, “Why invest in a maker space or all these expensive printers and machines? Can’t I just do a lab about how planaria react to light?”

Yes, you can, but outside of science class, kids don’t work with planaria. And here is one of the biggest disconnects between school and life.

Why work so hard on an experiment and a lab report just to never see it or use it again?

As a company, our goal is to help small businesses save time and resources. All the machines that you see on our website were designed to create useful and functional products. The last thing on our minds is busy work.

So, your original goal may have been to raise some money for the basketball team or a weekend science field trip. Why not use this opportunity to show students just how applicable STEM is in their everyday life.

Unlike planaria, ColDesi products don’t stop being relevant when a student hands in a lab report. Our products allow students to take ownership of the entire fundraising process, from product research to hitting that donation goal.

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