Day 04 - Smarter Communications (Middle School)

It was another amazing learning day in Smarter Communications. We began by presenting our prototypes and getting feedback from Design Challenge 2. We had a wind powered flying translating video communication machine that delivers food and communication to people in third world countries, and an ATM style machine that provides smart phones to people who don’t have access to technology.  We also had a solar powered “Pear Laptop” (kind of like Apple) that can instantly translate video messages and connects to a wind powered cell phone that can be anywhere in the world. Our last prototype was the “New ‘n Old Phone” which assists elderly people and people who are afraid to use new technology. This device teaches the user with an old, familiar phone style combined with book pages. It has a touch screen on the back, for when the user graduates to that level of use.

Lots of creativity and innovation was used in every team, and the prototypes and ideas are getting more impressive with each day. During the feedback phase, once again, we discovered that combining two of our designs would make one that would be even better. These kids are really thinking about the design process and what it’s all about.

We had the opportunity to video chat with IBM employee, Laura Ketner, who spoke to us from Connecticut this morning. She shared with us how IBM uses social communication to help productivity in the business setting. It was very interesting and informative. The kids asked her great questions and got lots of communication insight from what she taught us. We were also lucky enough to have Katherine Busbee with us again for our design challenge work. She has helped us a lot by asking great questions that help us think about our designs and prototypes.

Our design Challenge today was : Design a way to communicate with people needing or providing help during a disaster. We spent some time researching natural disasters and predicted the types of communication problems that people encounter in those situations. Our teams are working on a hand held device that warns people that a tornado is coming, as well as a flying alarm system that warns people in the path of fire tornadoes. We also have a building that can raise up on stilts in a tsunami to save all communication and power from being lost. Our last prototype is a communication device to help teachers communicate with first responders in case of a school emergency to keep kids safe. Aren’t these kids amazing?

Tomorrow we will present our prototypes, get feedback, and work on our last design challenge of the week: Design a way for people with challenges to better communicate. Ms. Goebel has a family member who has autism, so this challenge is near and dear to her heart.

Today was awesome because I made a weird phone.

  • Will: I enjoyed building my prototype with Andres.
  • Ava: I liked researching about tsunamis.
  • Maddie: Today was awesome because we built our tsunami stilts and flashing warning system.
  • Ramon and Clyde: Today was cool and fun because we made Billy Bob Joe’s Plane.
  • Niamaya: I enjoyed building our EWAK.
  • Jocelyn: My favorite part was when we build EWAK!!!
  • Ms. Goebel: My favorite part was seeing the incredible ideas and innovation that our class has produced!