Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tower Building Challenge with Mrs. Early

   At Westmoore Elementary, collaboration is encouraged with the integration of technology in the classroom. It was arduous to pick only one teacher at Westmoore Elementary to highlight for the blog this month, since so many enjoy using technology in the classroom. Mrs. Dawn Early is a fifth grade teacher at Westmoore, who teaches math and science. When asked if she wanted to participate in the Marshmallow Tower Building challenge, as a way to incorporate STEM, she immediately jumped on the opportunity. 
   Together we mapped out the initial lessons to the students on how to plan their tower design. Mrs. Early was wanting to have a large emphasis on the engineering design process and promoting the use of chromebooks to aid in this activity. Students were encouraged to use Educreations, 3DTin, and Google Drawing to assist with the design and planning of their tower. It was impressive to see the level of focus and dedication the students gave to this project. Some students even researched famous towers and looked at the digital blue prints of the structures to gain insight on how to build a strong frame.
Using Google Drawing to design the base of the tower structure.

   After two days of researching and planning their design, students were able to build their towers. Students worked in teams of three to four and were limited to the following materials: 1 box of spaghetti, 8 linguine noodles, 1 lasagna noodle, 8 regular marshmallows, and 100 mini marshmallows. Some teams struggled at first, but quickly remembered that redesigning is sometimes a critical component in the engineering design process. It was evident that Mrs. Early has spent significant time on teamwork skills, as most teams cooperatively worked together to build their tower. Also it was encouraging to see students using measurement to ensure precise length of their noodles. 

  This project was an excellent, fun, and unique learning experience for students. It allowed Mrs. Early's class to practically use information they had learned in science and math to complete a task. The response from students was overwhelmingly positive and most wanted to try this project again, using the information they gleaned from this first experience. Mrs. Early did a fantastic job in leading this activity and inspired other teachers to promote inquiry within their classrooms at Westmoore. 

~Deanna Boesch

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