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Monday, March 11, 2013

Engineering Challenge: Playground Equipment

For the past few weeks, scholars have been involved in the engineering design process. They have been imagining, planning, building and testing a piece of playground equipment built from recycled materials. Their design had to be freestanding, show movement, be transportable, had to withstand the wind test (blow-dryer), have no loose parts and had to match their plan.
The first step was imagining the possibilities. We visited our own playground and looked at lots of pictures of other playgrounds. This led to an investigation of simple machines. The kids noticed that many pieces of playground equipment are comprised of simple machines. We watched a video created by a playground simple machines expert. Watch it here:
Scholars investigated the construction and uses of simple machines using classroom engineering tools like K-Nex, Legos, Straws and Connectors and Erector Sets.

The next step was planning. Scholars chose their piece of equipment and met with their team to investigate the materials and make a plan.

 Then building... Scholars worked and reworked their designs using a rubric to guide their work.
 Then testing... each group tested their design to see if it would be freestanding, show movement, be transportable, withstand the wind test (blow-dryer) and have no loose parts. This stage of the design process is a foavorite for this class. They love sharing their work and getting feedback from their peers including suggestions for improvement.

The next step is improving the design. Armed with critical data from the testing process and suggestions for improvement, these scholars are ready to dive back in.

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