Physics, engineering, science, design, problem-solving, communication –plus the magical, practical applications of duct tape–were among the lessons learned last week by about 75 Pelican Rapids sixth graders.
By creating their own gravity-powered snow machines; they also gained a feel for the winter Olympic sport of bob-sledding.
And –they had a heck of a lot of fun in the process.
Assignment: Build a slopes-worthy sled, from cardboard. The field test of their craftsmanship was on Paul’s Sledding Hill, at the south side of Viking Elementary School. The sledding event Jan. 19 included competition for greatest distance down the hill.
“Focus of this project was the design process in engineering. We used a nine step process,” explained science teacher Jon Moe.
He went on to explain the project: Kids started brainstorming problems … and started sketching ideas. After coming up with our own ideas kids were able to research other designs online. Then they began developing their ideas. Since they didn’t have the resources and space for each individual to build a sled, they formed teams of 2-3 students.
The categories were: Complexity, aesthetics, construction time, functionality, materials and durability.
By emphasizing decision-making and practical applications, it prevented the project from becoming a design and color popularity contest, noted Moe. In other words: This wasn’t just a bobsled beauty pageant –these units needed to stand the test of hurtling down a slope.
“The kids took the design process very seriously,” said Moe. “They were required to do an initial sketch, orthographic drawing and an isometric (three-dimensional) drawing of their project.”
The rigs were tested on the slopes to evaluate and improve designs. Then, the students competed on the hill. Follow-up was this week, with students communicating their results.
“This is our first year doing this project and kids really seemed to enjoy it,” said Moe.
Some of the comments from the highly motivated students included:
– Mr. Moe can we work at recess?
– Can we bring our sled home and work on it this weekend?
– Can we stay after school and work?
“I think the comments speak for themselves,” said Moe, who was as motivated as the kids with the unique educational project.
Students learned design -engineering concepts with sled project–while becoming ‘duct tape wizards’
The list of construction materials for the Pelican Rapids grade 6 elementary school sled design project:
• 1500 square feet of cardboard
• 30 rolls of duct tapes
• 3 gallons of paint
From these materials, the students created a colorful array of snow cruisers, including:
• A Batmobile-inspired rig
• A psychedelic-colored peacock
• A Minnesota Viking sled
• A circular, “Dunkin’ Donut” contraption
• A box-shaped dairy cow
• A giant snail. (Interestingly, though a snail is associated with slow, lethargic movement –the snail rig was one of the leading early contestants in the sledding competition.)