Design and Engineering in the Elementary School

Kindergarteners Design Fun Feeders for their Class Pets

Our fabulous kindergarteners have been submersing themselves in design challenges. Their most recent design brief was to create a “fun feeder” for a class pet, of which there are five choices: Frank the rabbit, Chubby the hamster, Darkshell and Swimmy the turtles and fishy the goldfish (or one of the Betta fish).

The feeders had to meet three criteria:
1. All classmates must be able to reach the feeder.
2. The feeder must be safe for the pet.
3. The feeder had to feed the pet its food.

Kindergarteners are natural designers; they have a knack for rapidly prototyping, testing and revising their designs. We are very proud of our creative and curious kindergarteners.

First Graders Build Pneumatic Monsters

First graders have been conducting air experiments using parachutes, vacuum hoses, syringes, balloons and a variety of household objects. Last week they applied their learning to designing and building a pneumatic monster. Every child designed, cut, glued, and tied their way through a wide variety of materials to create a monster that had to utilize air to move some part of the body. These pneumatics could be flailing arms, snapping jaws, kicking legs or whatever their minds conceived. During the construction phase our first grade rooms were abuzz with creative problem solving, helpful collaboration, divergent thinking and wildly diverse monsters.

Fourth Graders Reverse Engineer Ancient Inventions

Fourth graders have been conducting an in-depth exploration on the impact ancient civilizations have on our lives today. As part of their studies students selected an ancient invention to explore, focusing on what gave rise to the invention, what impact the invention had on life and how the invention impacts our lives today. Each student then reverse engineered a working model of their chosen ancient invention, which they then presented to their peers along with a plethora of background information. Our fourth graders invested a high level of thinking not only into the design, experimentation and prototyping of their inventions, but also into their eye-catching presentations.

From conception to fruition students immersed themselves in each of these projects, which required critical thinking as well as the ability to reconsider and redesign based on the challenges that arose. They found fun in the challenge and the creativity that led to some amazing inventions.  (Tracey Reed, ES Information Technology Coach)