Recently our Maker Corps Members and I visited Avonworth Elementary to hang out with some second and third graders and their teachers. We presented them with a design challenge. We put the kids into four groups and challenged them with the task of creating a structure out of recycled materials and tape that could support a certain amount of weight.
Our weights spanned from one pound (a can of bolts) to two hundred pounds (me). At first the kids struggled, especially with balance and design, but eventually they started to figure things out. They started to work together. All of the groups utilized the strength of rolled up newspaper. They all used some amount of tape (one group used a little while another used an entire roll). We allowed the kids to test their structure as many times as they wanted. During this process there were some major design changes made by some of the groups.
After an hour and a half the students were asked to take a break from building. We had each group talk about their structure (how they built it, what would they change, etc.). Then Lindsay, Sam, Nick, Lauren and I each took turns sitting on the structures (one final test). Surprisingly each group built a structure that could support even me.
Thanks again to the administration and teachers at Avonworth Elementary for inviting us to their school and letting us test out a design challenge with some great students.