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Upper El (Mr. D): Problem Solved

What an awesome week! We completed stories, caught up on some work, tested our engineering projects, and had an amazing time at the Variety Show!

We dedicated part of our week to catching up on some work. We've had a lot going on, and we're learning to meet our deadlines. Occasionally, this means we fall behind a bit, and fortunately, we can also put in some buffer time to get back on track.

Tuesday was test day for our engineering projects. Can we get the ping pong ball from point A to point B, avoiding the obstacle along the way? Some of us were successful on the first try, some on the fifth, and some missed the target.

After they put their contraption to the test, each group or individual received a round of applause from their classmates. It was genuine applause too. Everyone knew the effort that went into the project, and the challenges faced.

There were plenty of science and engineering lessons in this project—which we talked about on Thursday—but, to me, the best part is seeing the entire class cheer on their peers and offer suggestions to help them succeed. They all wanted to accomplish the task, and they all wanted their classmates to get there as well. That's exactly the spirit I think we need in solving all problems, and I'm proud to see that message permeating through our classroom.

On Thursday, we did spend some time talking about all the lessons we learned in this project. Starting with the science involved, students shared ideas:

  • The slope of the ramp changes the speed

  • To put anything into motion, we need to first put energy into it (lifting the ball).

  • Gravity—our dominant force!

  • Inertia—the ping pong ball is very light, so small pushes and pulls move it easily.

  • Different shapes made stronger structures

Then, I steered the conversation to some of the other lessons we learned about engineering in the broader sense. Engineering is about...

  • Being precise—hitting our target.

  • Working with a deadline!

  • Testing and fixing and testing and fixing!

  • Overcoming obstacles (literally and the ones inside ourselves as we face "failures" along the way).

I enjoyed every part of this project. I'm looking forward to the next one and starting our next unit: How can we sustain life on another planet? We'll approach this question scientifically, looking at the concept of homeostasis and from an engineering standpoint as well.

Thursday was our Variety Show! This was my first year witnessing this event live, as things were a bit different last year, and I was blown away!! Seeing so many of our students getting up on stage and performing was so great. I'm, of course, especially proud of our Upper El group performance. We were down a couple of our key players last night, and we missed them, but I think we nailed it!

As I said at the beginning, it was an awesome week!

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