Sunday, November 26, 2017

Zippin' into Engineering

Teamwork. . . collaboration. . . thinking outside the box. . . revising . . . growth mindset. . .  STEAM challenges reinforce all these skills! A big thank you to Catherine @maythe4thgradebewithyou for this great zip line idea!
After showing my students several photos of my Girl Scouts zip lining, we discussed the mechanics of zip lining: attached to a cable, starting point higher than ending point, speed factor.
The class task was to design a carrier that could hold a passenger (a ping pong ball) without falling out, down a zip line in 10 seconds. You'd think this was easy to do, but 10 seconds is actually quite a long time, when sliding down a line! 

According to Anne Jolly in Education Week Teacher (June 17, 2014), "The STEM environment offers rich possibilities for creative solutions. When designing and testing prototypes, teams may flounder and fail to solve the problem. That’s okay. They are expected to learn from what went wrong, and try again. Failure is considered a positive step on the way to discovering and designing solutions." We always take time to examine what worked and what didn't work, then we revise our designs. Although this is time-consuming, this is the most important step! 
One of the best aspects of involving students in STEAM challenges is actually teaching collaboration and compromise. After every new challenge, all group members rate themselves on teamwork.
You can download your copy of  Build a Zip Line HERE. I hope your kids learn a lot from it!

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