November 30 - December 22, 2018
Over the course of four sessions, 6th grade students at Beidler Elementary School in Chicago participated in a series of rapid-prototyping exercises. The aim of the project was to introduce STEM concepts through hands-on activities with everyday household items. Each session offered a playful, creative, and movement-centered approach to learning about momentum, kinetic energy, space exploration, buoyancy, and structural engineering.
Session 1: Marble Run
November 30, 2018
This rapid-prototyping project introduced the concepts of momentum and kinetic energy by integrating play and making. Kids built quickly, tested out their tracks, observed what happened, and made adjustments as needed — over and over.
The class of 16 students was split into four teams. Each team was given (10) 18” marble track pieces (2x3’s with grooves cut out) and free use of any objects in the classroom. Chairs became support structures, pipes turned into tunnels.
Students were asked to observe the effect that the pitch of a marble track had on the speed of a marble. Did the speed increase or decrease? They were able to immediately apply their understanding of the concept by designing their tracks to achieve the goal. They had to be resourceful to make incremental changes, their solutions included using textbooks as wedges, chairs as support structures, and pipes as tunnels.