Brown Bag Challenge
A couple of weeks ago on Twitter, I saw a tweet that encompassed some of my favorite concepts of a maker mindset. In the tweet, Angie O’ Malley, a STEAM educator in Washington(and a FABLearn Fellow), challenged her #elemakers to make robots with super powers ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. (High five, Angie!) By handing kids a simple bag of random materials, students were challenged to create a robot with the everyday materials in front of them. I loved how she added the context of super powers, because it gave the students just enough direction (and constraint) to all make completely different and amazing robots.
I knew that I had to see what our Mason students would make with this fun challenge, but I also wanted to do this with FIVE different 2nd grade classes. So and I decided to add teaching the importance of recycling and re-use, and told students up front that they would build robots, snap a picture, and then dis-assemble after building so the next group could re-use the same materials.
The robots they made were super adorable. I took pictures and stored them in a Googledoc for each teacher with the intent that students could write about their robots in the future. (I’m also thinking if time allowed, it would be fun to have students make a Chatterpix of their robot describing its super powers.)
Here are some of their amazing creations!
Mrs. Denny’s sweet students wrote me thank you notes for “letting” them make robots in the library.
Designing an Accessible Playground
After seeing Angie’s great tweet about robots, I delved further into her work and discovered her amazing blog: Elementary Innovators. She has so many great ideas posted, but one that really stuck out was a post about designing accessible playground equipment. Since we might be getting new playground equipment at Mason, I thought it would be great for our 2nd graders to design a new playground that is accessible for ALL of our students.
Using the design thinking process, we discussed user needs and the concept of accessibility. We asked students to brainstorm ideas out loud and on paper, and then sketch out accessible playground ideas.
- Lower Monkey bars so a student in a wheelchair could use them
- Lower Monkey bars with a platform underneath that would move the wheelchair as the user “swung” across the bars
- Zip line swings
- An elevator to the slide
- A moving sidewalk to the Playscape
- A computer talker – A student wanted a computer so that one of our nonverbal students could tap on the computer to have it speak and tell others where he wants to play.
- A Wheelchair zipline that lifts the chair safely
- A lift to put a child in a swing
- An accessible trampoline- a platform for a wheelchair that bounces the rider while they are safely in their chair.
- And some students had super complicated ideas that were just plain awesome like this dinosaur with a slide coming out of it’s mouth!
Listen to this student talk about her design:
Little people have pretty amazing ideas! I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!