Wait – Is this STEM?

Leprechaun traps may not at first seem like STEM. After all, Leprechauns are mythical and how can that have anything to do with engineering? However unlikely it may seem, this is a great project for young kids to engage their strong powers of fantasy and imagination. It applies knowledge of what appeals to young learners in a way that captures their attention.

This is more about the technology and engineering aspects of STEM, and there is a lot to these branches that is not strictly about circuits and gears. For example, there is a lot of research and brainstorming involved. Students will have to find information about Leprechauns and apply this “knowledge” in designing the trap. Depending on how the activity is structured, it may involve teamwork. Team members must build components that function together to accomplish a common goal.

The trap will somehow have to appeal to Leprechauns and that has analogies to an inventor marketing their creation. The Leprechaun has to be attracted to the trap and the person who wants or needs to trap them has to be convinced that it works.

Young children are building a concept of cause and effect in their lives. This activity certainly can help them as they consider what has to happen first, and how events will unfold in a sequence leading to a trapped Leprechaun. 

The activity can easily include aspects of planning. The leader can assign costs to materials, and each student can be given an allowance. It will bring in a great opportunity for real-life mathematics.

As you can see, this and other seemingly unrelated activities have potential for at least some aspects of STEM learning. It depends on how it is taught and what the criteria are for a complete project.  This is something that talented STEM educators are doing all the time in schools and STEM centers in our region and beyond.