6th-8th Grade Math Classes Start the Year with Design Challenges

The entire math department kicked off the 2015-2016 school year with a week of design challenges for their classes in order to establish a classroom environment strong in collaborative, critical thinking. The first challenge was to design a way to use index cards to hold up as many textbooks as possible. The second challenge required student groups to create a launcher using their choice of prototyping materials that moved a pompon ball the farthest distance. Third, students designed a bridge made of only toothpicks and gumdrops that could span a 6 inch gap and hold the most washers.  On the fourth day, groups used a basket of material options to create a design that could elevate as many marshmallows as possible off the table.  

On the fifth day of the week, the classes got to choose which design they would like to reiterate and retest. In 6th grade, students chose to redo the gum drop bridge design challenge. Their reasoning was that they had a better idea of how to design a stronger bridge based on which bridges held the most washers during the testing phase before collapsing. Examples of observations that were put in place for the reiteration were designing with triangles and building larger base supports.