Sunday, March 8, 2015

Creating a Sail Car

An opportunity arose this past week for the students to participate in an activity where they would be 'sail' car designers!

The class was given some supplies to test out (and review through me) for Scholastic's Instructor Magazine.  The materials were very simple: cardboard wheels, notched craft sticks, 6 inch dowels, elastics & straws.

The level of engagement & enthusiasm was high! There were fist pumps & "oh yeahs!" when student learned they would be building.  They first decided if they wanted to work independently or part of a pair or group.  Once that was decided the work began. Students were encouraged to make some sketches of possible models.   However, most wanted to get right to the building part of the project. (Students later reflected that next time they would take MORE time planning!). 

Due to the cold weather we had indoor recess.  Most students voluntarily continued working on the 'sail' car for BOTH recesses.  Still, more time was needed to complete their creations which was given throughout the week.  Along the way we learned about and discussed axles, axle bushings and the importance of planning.  We talked about sail designs & about wheel placement.  In the meantime, those working in groups learned about compromise and listening to others' ideas.  Even those working independently learned that sometimes collaboration is helpful.   I hadn't anticipated the level of learning this activity provided.

The day arrived that we were ready to test the cars to see which one would travel the furthest.  A START line was created and several tape measures were secured to the floor!  Students were only allowed ONE blow through a straw - then the distance was measured.  Each car had 3 tries.  Students all lined up along the start line and awaited their turn.  It really was fun.  You could hear the students discussing why someone's car worked well or didn't work as well.  The cars' distances ranged between 6 inches and 60 inches! Huzzah!

To wrap up the project students all discussed what they learned and wrote a "Sail Car Reflection".  “Awesome! Fun! Confusing! Hard! Challenging!” – these are the words my students used to describe the project.  They loved being able to “create something using their own ideas.” "Next time I'll take time to make a better plan." "I liked the materials because they were simple to use."
What's the next activity???? I'm not sure, but I do know that IT will happen again and SOON!

Students: What is ONE change you would make to your car if you were to do this again? WHY?