Students sketched their ideas and then explored the available materials in the Lab. They were given a tour of the tools and several faculty and staff were present to help with cutting, sawing, drilling, or gluing of materials. Once students had built their first wands, they were able to go outside and test them using bubble solution. Some designs worked while others needed revising. For many students, a quick test was followed by additional designing and building in the Lab before heading back outside to test again. This cycle of quick iteration and testing is something we teach often in the Lab.
Geneva recently sent out an overview to other teachers who were going to assist on the building and testing day. I think her words are a great example of how Project Based Learning and a "maker mindset" infuse how we work with students and what we ask students to learn, do, and reflect upon:
We are looking forward to having you join us for our tinkering activity. Here are some points to know:
- You will be assisting the students while they are creating their bubble wands. You will help them with using some of the tools or supervising them while they are using the simpler, non-electric tools. Adults will use the glue gun for kids who want to glue parts together. You may need to offer an extra pair of hands as kids manipulate the parts of their project.
- Encourage a "growth mindset" and perseverance should a child become frustrated. (Not expecting that, but you never know!) Let them struggle a bit with figuring things out; trial-and-error is part of the process!
- Guide kids to make independent decisions and, when appropriate, answer their questions first with "What do you think?" to get them to think a bit deeper.
- When a child is ready to test his/her wand, you may give permission for him/her to go outside to the "testing site" (the ring road right next to the Open Lab building).
- When the kids finish testing their wand the first time, they should return to the Lab to complete the back side of their project planner page. Some will need help with reading the questions and/or understanding how to answer them. (I will be reviewing the questions with them in our homeroom in the morning.)
- After completing the page, they may work on a second iteration of their wand or make repairs. They may re-test.
- I will be circulating in the Lab and at the "test site" so I can observe the kids in all phases of the process, as well as to take photos. I am available for questions at any time!
- Have fun!