In the span of a 45-minute class period, we helped 23 4th graders at Escondido School in Palo Alto, CA build plastic bottle “puff” launchers to launch flying creatures in the air. This activity provided outlets for individual creativity, where students could brainstorm and customize their creature and we intended for students to test their creations to see if and how they would fly. through the prototyping and testing process, we encouraged students to make adjustments on their designs to build their way forward.
Introductions (5 min) Make lists of things you like and things that fly (5 min) Pick one item from each list and sketch mashups (5 min) Share sketches with small groups and pick materials (5 min) Construct prototypes (10 min) Test with launcher and iterate (10 min) Debrief (10 min)
We based this activity on the puff rocket activity kits from RAFT ($0.50/kit). We also brought construction paper, painter's tape, scotch tape, glue sticks, pipe cleaners, paper clips, and rubber bands, along with markers and scissors for constructing the flying creatures.
Key Debrief Points
- You can build your way forward – there's no one "right answer" for fuzzy, complex problems
- Collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas can help generate unexpectedly rich ideas
- Building quick prototypes, testing them, and rebuilding can be more effective than mentally working through a problem for a long time
Questions for you
- what did you observe about the students' engagement with the content of the workshop?
- what did you observe about the students' engagement with each other?
- what did you observe about the students' engagement with the sparklab instructors?
Questions for students
we encourage you to spend at least 10 minutes during your next class session to chat with your students about the workshop. some suggested questions:
- what did you do during the workshop?
- what did you learn during the workshop? (or what was the biggest thing you learned?)
- what was your favorite part of the workshop?
- what was your least favorite part of the workshop?
- do you remember getting "stuck"? how did you get "unstuck"?
- how can you apply what you learned to other classes/subjects?
- how can you apply what you learned to your everyday life?
Keep in touch
We love feedback! to us, every workshop we run is a prototype and an opportunity to improve what we do. We'd really appreciate if you share with us your and your students' responses to these questions, as well as any other thoughts you have about what we're doing.
visit our website at http://www.sparklab.us drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to individual sparkees at: