So, How Did We Get Here?
Simple answer. The students have a building design to tackle. They research, watch a video, do some reading, and discover new thinking about the structure. This can also be from just talking about the task with each other and the whole group.
Then they find out what their building materials are and they start thinking about how to build the structure using those supplies. They talk, they sketch ideas, they share ideas, and then they choose what to do. Everyone takes on a job in the group.
Time to build! And here is where the major stuff begins. Their ideas don’t work at all, the idea is scrapped and they start again, the second idea doesn’t work. Then what?
In the top photo above the team poked a paper clip inside the straw and let the top of it stick out enough to thread the dowel stick through. The craft stick on the end is their crank handle.
In the bottom photo, a team used a hole puncher to make holes in the straws and then threaded the dowel stick through those holes.
Secret Thing About This One: The crank being able to turn is very similar to a car axle. When a class has already made cars, they do very well with this challenge because they remember what worked with axles. Isn’t it neat that kids learn strategies and use them again!
There are SO MANY problems to solve with this challenge. Building the actual structure is simple. The first problem comes with attaching the turning mechanism. Most teams do this like the top photo above. They make holes in the structure and thread a straw through until it protrudes enough to hold the blade device.
The next problem is what to use as the center of the turning device. I offer many round objects and the team in the photo used a sewing machine bobbin. This created a big problem for them! Attaching the blades to a very small object is hard. They wound pipe cleaners through the holes of the bobbin and tightened them to hold those craft sticks in place. Really. #kidsaregreat
And, of course, if the blades don’t turn when the fan starts blowing, the kids have to rethink and solve that dilemma. Those skinny craft stick blades above would not turn, so the team added some paper. They had to work with that paper a lot! The flat paper blades did not “catch” air, so they bent the sides and this finally worked.
Secret Thing About This One: It’s really all about that center of the blades. When kids determine that those smaller centers are just too difficult to attach things to, they will trade in their center objects for something larger.