Watch out for Tornadoes!

As students in Ms. Leahy’s fifth grade class inquire into how humans use their understanding of scientific principles, they examine weather conditions and how they change the earth through a variety of processes and forces.  Students participated in a design challenge.  Their task- how might we create a building to withstand a severe tornado?  Their constraints included building for a dense city that is prone to frequent tornados.  Students began with a review of the design thinking process and interviewed their classmates about a time they were in a severe weather event.  By understanding these experiences, students were able to apply this knowledge to what needs a structure might have in order to withstand the forces of Mother Nature.  Using their knowledge of math concepts, students created freestanding buildings as tall as possible.  Their goal was to create the tallest building able to withstand gale force winds (Ms. Leahy’s hairdryer!).  Students were given time to iterate, getting feedback from smaller storms (a group of students blowing on their structure simultaneously) until they felt prepared for the main event.  Some stood the force, and some crumpled under the pressure!