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Strawbees Help Develop Problem Solving Skills at Okatie Elementary School

Updated: 6 days ago

Lisabeth Webber has enjoyed teaching Computer Science for the past 3 years at Okatie

Elementary School. But she has noticed something in her tenure there…students needed methods to improve their “problem solving” skills. Ms. Webber had observed that students were terrified and upset when they made a mistake or had to devise a solution independently. So, Ms. Webber took it upon herself to work with EVERY class in the school to help develop problem solving skills and confidence.

As part of her plan, Ms. Webber applied for an Innovative Teacher grant through the

Foundation entitled “Makerspace in Computer Science.” Thanks to support from the Moss Creek Community Charitable Fund, the grant has allowed for the purchase of Strawbees for her classroom. Strawbees is a construction set, which means it’s made to build things - developing the necessary skills to think creatively! The set comes with a complete curriculum and the concept of building with straws is so simple, yet so effective. They can also be used with Micro: Bits to make things into actual moving machines!

Introducing Strawbees was a big hit for Ms. Webber’s students! All the students loved using them as they worked together and in groups creating structures and simple machines.

Students were given a series of problem solving projects where they were tasked with coming up with a solution using Strawbees as a model.

For example, students had to create a model of a machine that would make raking or picking up leaves easier. They also had to create a model of a house from the “Three Little Pigs” that could withstand the wind of a blow dryer. Ms. Webber also integrated Science lessons (included in the Strawbees) to correlate with what the students were learning in their regular classrooms. The results of this reinforcement of science knowledge and skills were both helpful and fun for the classes to retain information taught in class.

Ms. Webber has observed great changes among the students since introducing Strawbees in the classroom.

“Students have made apparent gains in working together and thinking proactively when

presented with a problem,” explains Ms. Webber. “It has allowed them opportunities to work together in pairs or teams and make decisions with another person.”

Students have loved building with the Strawbees and it has reinforced problem solving and collaboration skills. The students think they are merely playing – but they are actually learning valuable skills as well! The continual benefit of using Strawbees will reinforce students’ ability to think for themselves and get out of the habit of being stressed when they run into any little problem or obstacle.

The Strawbees materials can be used year after year in the classroom so that students can continue to work on their problem-solving skills throughout their elementary school career.

“I’ve noticed that it is getting better with every year, and I will continue to work with them until they are all self-sufficient, confident learners and problem solvers,” says Ms. Webber.

The Foundation is so thankful for the support of the Moss Creek Community Charitable Fund and proactive teachers like Ms. Webber that are willing to go above and beyond to invest in their students’ futures – not only academically, but skills beyond the classroom as well.


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