Hi teacher friends,
I’ve been busy creating a series of STEM projects for students who are studying Medieval Times & Middle Ages.. Next stop, West Africa!
Challenge 1: Gold Mining Machine!
Gold and salt were Ghana’s most valuable trade resources. Ghana became a powerful empire after taking control of trade routes, located between the Niger and Senegal Rivers.
Gold was discovered in the southern forests of West Africa. Three major gold locations include Akan, Bambuhu, and Bure.
Gold was an important mineral used to make tools, weapons, and jewelry.
A sluice box is a device that separates gold from other materials found in gravel and river sediments. As water moves through the device, the riffles catch and separate the gold. Gravel is poured into the head of the box while the box lays parallel to the flow of water in a river or stream. Sluice boxes are typically 3-5 feet long and 6-12 inches high. This device is much more effective than gold planning (simply separating the gold by hand)
Here’s the Gold Mining Machine STEM Challenge:
Using a list of supplies, students must design and build a sluice box to search for gold. The goal of this challenge is to create a device that effectively separates gold and heavier material from river sediments (or gravel). As water moves through the device, the riffles must catch and separate the gold and/or heavy material. The sluice box must contain all the parts described in the planning pages (scroll to bottom of post). (riffles, metal mesh, feeder, etc.) Items can be added to the materials list if needed. STEM teams have 3 days and 3 trials to complete this challenge. ***to see more info about supplies and planning pages, scroll to bottom of post.
Challenge 2: Djembe Challenge!
The djembe was developed around 1200 AD. The instrument is thought to have been designed during the Mali Empire which includes the modern day countries of Mali, Senegal, Guniea, and Gambia. The name “djembe” comes from the African sayin g, “Anke djé, anke bé” which translates to, “everyone gather together in peace“.
The djembe produces a wide variety of sounds and pitches, making it a very versatile drum.
Here’s the Djembe STEM Challenge:
Using a list of supplies, STEM teams must create a Djembe drum. The Djembe drum must contain all of the elements found on the diagram on page 8 (see link below). The drum must also produce a variety of pitches when played on different parts of the drum head. The drum cannot be larger than 25 inches tall or have a diameter larger than 14 inches. Students must be able to complete this challenge in 2 days.
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