I try to integrate subjects whenever possible, so when the time came to study the Nazca lines of South America (after our study of the Olmecs), I saw an opportunity for a great STEM project that taught history as well!
What are the Nazca lines and why should we care? These lines, etched into the ground in the Peruvian desert between 500 BC and 500 AD, are now a World Heritage site and one of the great mysteries of history.
Barely noticeable from the ground, these geoglyphs are so large that their true value can only be appreciated from the air, which is why they did not come to public attention until airplanes started flying them in the 1930s.Some of the straight lines are 30 miles long, while the animal and plant figures (our favorites were the hummingbird and monkey) range from 50 to 1200 feet in length (Source: National Geographic). So how did the ancient peoples of this region create these massive works of art? Possible alien visitors (!) notwithstanding, the most likely explanation is simply that they were great engineers, who were able to map out their designs on a grand scale and patiently bring them to life over a vast swath of land.
What would it undertake this kind of engineering project? To explore, we did this STEM activity, which requires little more than paper, pen, chalk, and a large space to draw:
Nazca Lines STEM Project
1. Choose your site. Before you start your engineering project, you need to know where you are going to be doing your final creation. Ideally, it is a large open space outdoors that is divided into several uniform blocks, such as a sidewalk. Decide how many blocks tall and wide your final design will be. We chose a sidewalk at a nearby park and decided to use three blocks of the sidewalk. (You could also use a white board or blackboard that you divide into sections, though it is nice to draw on a horizontal surface to get the full effect).
2. Create your design. Draw blocks on a sheet of paper that match those of your final site. Since we were going to be using three blocks of a sidewalk, we first drew three large blocks on our paper and my son drew his design onto these. This will help you plan how large your drawing needs to be when you transfer it to the sidewalk. You may even find it helpful to divide your paper (and the sidewalk) into smaller blocks. For younger children, try to keep the drawings fairly simple, as it is easy to underestimate how difficult it will be to scale them up in the next step. (Knowing, of course, that many children – like mine – will ignore this advice and draw something complicated, like a detailed picture of a warrior!)
3. Make your creation. Take chalk and your paper to your final site and transfer your design. Use your sketch to help you see how big each portion has to be on the sidewalk. It will be much bigger than you think! Even with drawing in hand, this was the most challenging part, as it is quite difficult to scale up your drawing onto the pavement.
This was a fun project, and it helps build a healthy respect for those long ago engineers!
Welcome to our third annual celebration of Native American Heritage Month! All month long we’ll be sharing posts about sharing these rich cultures with kids. Find our full schedule of posts below, and don’t forget to link up your own as well! We’re also having a giveaway (see below for details and to enter!) You can find even more ideas on our Native/Indigenous Cultures Pinterest board:
Open Wide the World on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Native American Heritage Month and Free Trilingual Printable
Kid World Citizen: Learn about the Seminole Indians
Colours of Us: 32 Native American Children’s Books
Crafty Moms Share: Native Americans of Cape Cod and Massachusetts
Crafty Moms Share: Review of Some of the Prizes
LarabeeUK: FUN|native American Small World Play
La Clase de Sra. DuFault on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 10 Interesting Facts About the Mapuche
Gianna the Great: Halito, My Friends
All Done Monkey
Creative World of Varya
From MotherTongues: Himdag Walk in Balance T-Shirt (women’s or unisex, S-XL) US & Canada shipping only
From Quarto Knows: Native North Americans by Joe Fullman & History of Indian Tribes of North America, 3 Volume Set by McKenney and Hall US shipping only
From Abrams Books: Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People by S.D. Nelson, In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III, & Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson & illustrated by David Shannon US shipping only
From Firefly Books: Ojibwa: People of Forests and Prairies, Iroquois: People of the Longhouse, & Encyclopedia of Native Tribes of North America all by Michael G. Johnson US & Canada shipping only
From Daria Music: Set of 2 Dance Whistle Kits from Crazy Crow Trading Post US shipping only
From Wisdom Tales Press: Red Cloud’s War: Brave Eagle’s Account of the Fetterman Fight by Paul Goble & Indian Boyhood: The True Story of a Sioux Upbringing by Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) US shipping only
From Wisdom Tales Press: Indian Boyhood: The True Story of a Sioux Upbringing by Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa), Custer’s Last Battle: Red Hawk’s Account of the Battle of Little Bighorn by Paul Goble, & Horse Raid: The Making of a Warrior by Paul Goble US shipping only
From Interlink Books: Pocket Timeline of Ancient Mexico by Penny Bateman US shipping only
From Kid World Citizen: Machu Picchu Lesson: Teach about the Incas in Peru! Reading, Crossword, Coloring (English & Spanish versions)
Share Your Posts