Both Kindergarten classes had a chance to come to the Open Lab for a tinkering activity called "The Fourth Little Pig." Few people know that after the Three Little Pigs met the Big Bad Wolf, a fourth little pig escaped and ran all the way to the Open Lab, or at least that's how we crafted the story for our students. The fourth little pig would need a house that was strong enough to withstand the wolf's breath (an air cannon that David St. Martin created):
We gave students a tray with an outline of where three existing walls would be and directions to build a fourth wall using basic materials on the tray as well as masking tape. Students learned about the concept of constraints because they would only have one long piece of masking tape and the materials provided to them. I laser-cut wooden pigs for them that would need to stand inside the house.
Students worked on building their walls and did initial testing using their breath to simulate the wolf. For the "real" test, the wolf would blow and try to knock over the pigs. In almost every case, the first design was unsuccessful and the pigs fell over. Failing fast is a tenet of design thinking and a maker mindset, and something that we encourage. While we always want students to ultimately succeed, making mistakes in the early part of a design process is a good learning opportunity and allows students to refine their ideas and build even better prototypes.
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— Tatian Greenleaf
Tatian Greenleaf is the Design, Tinkering and Technology Intergrator at Mark Day School.