Bridges and Towers Part II
In my previous post I talked about the Bridge/Tower project we did in class. In this post I’m going to go over “the Good, the Bad and The Ugly” as they say. Let’s start with the good, students seemed very engaged with the project. Groups were working together and coming up with some great ideas. At first it was a bit slow for some, they seemed to be having a hard time with an open-ended project. I allowed them to decide on their design process.This was a bit different for them at the beginning. But once they knew the criteria and what was expected of them they off to the races. The open-ended part of the project I really liked it because it gave students a chance to experience the problem-solving I was hoping to introduce with the project. I did have some students come after school and during lunch to finish their design.
The Bad, well only a few towers fell. And you might think it weird that I’m saying bad for this. But I think the criteria was good, but fewer materials should be used. Or a budget created for the project. This might restrict the structures and create a more realistic goal. Due to the amount of the materials allowed and no real restrictions there weren’t many buildings falling. For the Bridge part of the project I think we need to come up with a few more restrictions. None of the bridges failed. I actually added weight to some to see if they would fail. So bottom line is we need to adjust our material use to increase the challenge.
The Ugly, Glue! They went through more glue than I’ve ever seen. Once they attached the different parts they had to use blow dryers to dry their work. I think the glue needs to be regulated also. A bit messy also. Make sure they have tables or desks covered. I have high school students and quite honestly I was glad I used plastic table cloths. Made a huge difference with cleanup. As for anything to do with the material. I would introduce Earthquake Waves before giving this project. We had thought having students research the background information, such as Earthquake waves, would be ideal for this project. But I feel like the students really didn’t get a better understanding of that information. Part of the lab activity had background information on Earthquake waves. It’s good information, but I think I need to access their knowledge after the project. We did more of a survey. I think this goes along with all the other changes we have talked about doing next year. For the Tower, limit the material and create a budget. For the bridge, limit the weight, materials and create a budget.
A definite project for next year, I think the improvements we make on it will increase the student’s learning process.