Third graders engineer rescue of trapped miners

Third graders in Mrs. Mutschler and Ms. Melvin’s class had a big problem to solve last week. The class began by watching footage from the 2010 Chilean mining accident where 33 miners were trapped underground. We stopped watching before the rescue attempts and left the students with the scenario information and asked them what they would do to complete a successful rescue. The third graders used design thinking skills to construct a device that would be able to drop down a mine and pull up stranded miners.

We used this Chilean miner scenario to give the students a real-life example of scientists collaborating to design authentic solutions.  The students used skills learned in the electricity unit in class as well as previous design thinking activities to frame their thinking.  After the students were able to test their solutions on our makeshift “mine,” they watched the real footage from the rescue and discussed the science behind it. (Susan Mutschler, Grade 3 teacher)