As part of our two Science building units - 'Testing Materials and Designs', and 'Building with a Variety of Materials', students are asked to follow the scientific method and engineering design process to observe, set problems, explore solutions, and create.
Applying the Design Cycle to Tower Building
Problem: Most of the original plans for our student created communities included towers but many groups struggled to construct one that would remain upright.
Observation: Students researched a variety of towers from around the world, from our very own Calgary Tower to the Tokyo Skytree. They noted that all these towers had a sturdy and robust foundation.
Building Challenge: Build a tower out of recycled materials that is at least 50cm high and can support a 500g weight during an "earthquake" (gentle table shaking) and a "windstorm" (the teacher's fake sneeze).
Resiliency Challenge: Accept when initial designs and prototypes are not successful and attempt to learn from the failure. Failures are steps towards success. Take what you have learned and apply it to the next prototype. *Did you know that Edison had over 1000 prototypes before he made his first working lightbulb?
Students were encouraged to test as they built, constantly making minor adjustments to their designs as needed. If the original design did not work (as almost all of them initially failed), students were encouraged to see the failed prototype as a learning opportunity. Each failure taught us something about the challenge. Students were regularly given feedback to improve their design, and were allowed to repeat the design process until they were successful, or we ran out of time. Photos from our challenge can be found here.
Towers were sent home and students are encouraged to continue to design process (research - seek feedback - improve).