Today we we tackled day 3 of school, I wanted my students to apply some of the concepts we have been talking about--mostly about helping each other and being receptive to help. I decided to design a little engineering challenge that would require them to stick to a tight schedule, come up a with a plan, try it out, cooperative, test their idea, then reflect on the process...all while relying on each other for help.
When I first told my students that we needed to help Harry, they looked at me like I was crazy. (They will soon see that this is not an atypical situation in my room!) They started looking around quizzically and you could feel the excitement building. Finally, I caved. I introduced them to Harry.
Harry is a puffball (We have had 7 of them perched above our Smartboard and no one has said a word!) who needs a new "perch" so that he can see out over the class more safely. I told the students that I would give each team a bag of supplies and a schedule. I showed them their supplies (pipe cleaners, about 12 inches of tape, two muffin liners, a piece of aluminum foil, and two index cards) and told them to think about a nice safe place for Harry to hang out.
After 5 minutes of talking and planning without supplies, I set the timer for 15 minutes and watched the teams get to work.
I was SHOCKED at the wide range of strategies--and how much "re-engineering" took place so willingly! We will talk more about that tomorrow...about how important it is to try, test, revise, and test again--whether it is in science, making predictions in reading, and more.
This group was SO excited about their plan and couldn't wait to see if Harry would be safe in his perch! (He was...so no worries)
I loved hearing the cheers echo across the room when the 15 minutes was over and I passed out the "Harries" to each team. Every single team was able to test, modify, and support a Harry!
When the testing and celebrating was over, we took some time in teams to evaluate how we did in all the areas we had talked about before we started. I was pretty pleased to see how honest they were!
It was a great discussion starter, collaboration teacher, science skill building half hour of FUN! See what you think...grab the freebie if you are interested and tweak the contents of the supply bag to be whatever you have on hand! Want to try it yourself? Just click the image below to take you to the freebie handout pictured above.
Want to see a few more engineering challenges? Try these!