Class 5 Engineers Design Their Own Game

Class 5 Engineers Design Their Own Game

On a recent Monday morning, Class 5 scientists gathered in the Hayot Center for Innovation (HCI) to resume working on an exciting project.

Sporting Green and Gold aprons, the students gathered various materials and set up their working station at one of the large rectangular lab tables. After some brief reminders from Class 5 science teacher Juliana Brassfield, the students collected their works-in-progress from the back of the room.

Born out of an in-depth study of forces and motion, and to build upon their engineering skills, this captivating project tasked students with creating their very own mini golf course!

The girls began this endeavor by performing a series of experiments of their own design to determine the best materials to use. Resources available to them included sponges, cardboard, plastic, paper, plywood and sandpaper.

Upon competition, the fifth graders analyzed their data, considering what propelled the ball the furthest and what caused errors, and conferred with classmates. They also learned about elastic collision, which is when two objects collide without deformation, and energy transfer to help inform their decisions.

Fortified with this knowledge, students selected their final materials and were able to provide the scientific reasoning behind their choices.

Having readily and fervently accepted their design challenge, they got straight to work in groups in the HCI. However, Ms. Brassfield also provided a thought-provoking list of criteria and constraints for the girls to consider while building. These included that the golf ball must collide with at least two materials, resulting in a change of direction; each course must have at least one obstacle; the course must be sturdy; the ball must roll into the hole after one contact force from the putter; and the course must have a theme or cohesive design.

Using tools like scissors, hot glue guns and duct tape, the students worked with precision to execute their design goals. Another intriguing device available in the HCI were 3D pens, which emit a warm, malleable plastic from the nozzle that hardens into a solid structure. When using them, whatever the students imagined and drew came to life before their eyes! (One girl, for example, worked diligently on a vibrant palm tree.)

As time passed, designs began to emerge with the students’ creativity on full display! On one side of the room, a Taylor Swift “Eras Tour” course neared competition while another group’s course depicted a spooky Halloween scene, complete with sparkly purple spiders and bright orange ramps. A third course sported a red balloon (with “big apple” written in black sharpie) and a cardboard Starbucks location signaling its New York City theme.

In a fun culmination, Class 5 tested their courses with friends and teachers. Students were also given a peer review worksheet, through which they provided helpful feedback for classmates. If this project was any indication, Class 5 is ready to enhance the world through their innovative and clever ideas!