Last week, Goodrich students had the opportunity to take a unique in-school field trip to our very own LRC. Now this might sound like an everyday occurrence, but what they encountered in the LRC was anything but ordinary. Mrs. Sayre, our LRC director, designed a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineers, and Mathematics) challenge for students to tackle. This particular challenge was focused on the engineering aspect on STEM.
The task was simple; build the first letter of your first name out of the materials given. Sounds easy right? Until the constraints were revealed: the letter had to be at least 12 inches tall, at least four inches wide, stand on its own, use only one straw, use only two pipe cleaners, use only one piece of cardboard, use at least four of the given materials, and finish in the given amount of time. Not so easy anymore!
It was unbelievable to see my students get right to work planning and constructing. Most students did not find success in their first design attempt. Some discovered their letter was not tall enough, others saw their design fall over once they let it go, and still others were stuck in the initial design stage. But the most magnificent thing happened next, they didn't give up! Not one student stopped and gave up after their first attempt! Students saw what wasn’t working or what constraint was not met with their design and tried something else. Many students were struggling to keep their letter standing and discovered that creating a picture frame like backing or kickstand helped it stay standing. Seeing my students engaged in this type of engineering based activity left me in complete awe. It looks like there may be some future engineers in fourth grade!