The students tackled project number one the week of Aug.19-23: Given two sheets of newspaper, eight pieces of recycled 8.5x11 copy paper, and 50 centimeters of masking tape, build a "contraption" that will house an egg safely as it is dropped from increasingly higher heights. To further the difficulty level, a portion of the "contraption" must be opened so that the egg moves freely out after each trial to check for cracks or breakage.
Students were placed into groups of 4 to 6 and had to work together to research and plan their design, then carry and out and build the contraption. Teams were assigned so students were, in most cases, not working with their closest "buddies."
Developing their abilities to reason and work within groups to agree upon the best design, and solve problems given the significant design restrictions (50 centimeters of tape is NOT a lot!) led to fun -- and learning!
Thursday afternoon students took their contraptions out to the football field where one person from each group acted as the "dropper" from the first tier of the football stands, while all the other students looked on from the field.
Of the 24 contraptions, only six cradled the egg well to make it to the higher levels of the stands. Two contraptions made it to the top of the football stands and from there it was to the band-observation tower by the running track. From the top of the tower the final two contraptions were dropped simultaneously. One -- with a very large piece of newspaper acting as a parachute -- cradled the egg safely from even this great height.
The results of strong teamwork and class spirit was evident as the students whose eggs broke early in the competition gathered to cheer and see whose contraption would win in the end.
Not to be ignored completely, math and science were included in the project, with a diagram of the egg-saver required of each student. Additionally, in writing class on Thursday students wrote a procedural paragraph detailing the steps taken to build the contraption -- the type of writing required by adults daily in life activities.