Day 01 - Smarter Public Safety (Middle School)

The Smarter Public Safety group’s day began with the Parent Orientation in IBM’s Cafeteria.  Speakers from IBM and St. Vrain talked about the history of their Innovation Academy collaboration and how it was instrumental in receiving the Race to the Top grant.  Julie Andrew from CU Teach then presented a colorful presentation about the different states of matter to get the kids (and teachers) fired up about the next 2 weseks.

After the orientation, the 14 of us split off into our classroom at IBM.  We had quick personal introductions before I introduced the kids to our topic and the norms of Innovation Academy.  We found that we have a great group of students with a great variety of the “Traits of Innovation.”  After a short snack break, we started our design challenge for the day.

For our first try of the design process, we split into random groups and were faced with the task building a tall structure.  The only problem was that the only materials they were allowed to use were 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 meter of masking tape, 1 meter of string, and a marshmallow.  Marshmallow Challenge

In the first 18-minute session (plus a 5-minute bonus), kids worked well together but 3/5 groups saw their tower fail to even hold up the marshmallow.  The winning group had a tower of 19 inches.

After being able to review other people’s successes and failures, I had the groups talk about what they would change and try the challenge again.  For the second run-through, we only had 12 minutes, but the students were able to improve on their designs and have more success.

In the coming 4 days, students will working on design challenges around the topic of Public Safety.  We will also have field trips on the IBM Campus and some expert guest speakers presenting.