Don't Lose Your Marbles!

STEM and STEAM are all the rage right now, but I don’t want to just do activities “for fun”. I want my students to understand the engineering design process. The James Dyson Foundation wants to inspire young engineers and make engineering relevant to students. They are a wonderful non-profit organization, designing engineering challenges for teachers and students.
They’ve created task cards and short videos, interviewing real engineers (with wonderful British accents!) demonstrating and explaining the physics behind various elements to each challenge. Using everyday materials, students work in teams to design and build a prototype.
After watching the introductory video, our first task was to design a marble run. Using cardboard and tape, students needed to build a path for a marble to travel down and around a box in exactly 60 seconds.

Ummm. . . our longest run was only 25 seconds! However, my students are determined to redesign and work on this challenge again. I love how this group used scissors to "rough up" their struts to attempt & slow down their marble.
STEM tasks are engaging and encourage teamwork and thinking outside the box. Teams use this rubric to self-evaluate after each engineering design session. You can download your copy by clicking on the rubric below:
My kids were enthralled by this challenge so they were excited when our 8th grade science teacher invited us to test out his class' roller coasters. The 8th graders explained their various designs and their testing process: they had height and loop criteria to meet. A marble had to "ride" their amusement park-themed roller coaster. It was a great connection to our marble run!
What STEAM challenges have you tried with your students? Be sure to check out James Dyson Foundation for more FREE videos and task cards!

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