In Forestville’s Mission POSSIBLE course this past week students continued learning about the Engineering Design Process combined with a 21st Century Life Skill. Our skills for this week were Predicting-Testing-Revising and the ability to Embrace Failure. Students put these skills to use first by building towers using just notecards and scissors. They predicted the height they thought they could achieve in 10 minutes. They also predicted which design idea would work best and be sturdy. Students then had one 10-minute round to test, revise, and implement their designs. After the first round – and many failures – students visited each of the other teams and then tried again, by incorporating what they learned from their own mistakes and the mistakes made by other teams. Students were also allowed to use the Internet to do additional Background Research. Each team improved their overall height and designed more sturdy structures in Round 2.
We also continued with our process of putting all the pieces of the Engineering Design Process together into a long-term project. Last week students toured the outside environment of Forestville and used Empathy to identify problems. They then did collaborative brainstorming. They generated many ideas for labeling plants around the school. iSchool is now supporting these students on a project to label plants and other outdoor features using technology. We suggested posting Quick Response Codes (QR Codes or QRCs) around the school, which was an idea that many students loved. The combination of technology and nature seemed to be really appealing!
The class yesterday was actually structured around learning about QRCs in addition to engineering principles and 21st Century Life Skills. Students received a worksheet that had questions, and QR Codes to help them find the answers. They used tablets and smartphones to scan those QR Codes. Their first stop was learning what QRC stands for, what QRCs do, and how they are made. They used a laptop to make a QRC for a favorite YouTube video. They actually got their instructions for the Notecard Tower Challenge via a QRC on the worksheet! Finally, they scanned a QRC to learn about other schools that have used QR Codes to label plants at their schools. Students in the Mission POSSIBLE course agreed that they could indeed do this as a project and set out to find their locations and topics for their own QRCs. We toured the outside of the school so students could find an outdoor place or object that interested them. Next week they will do the research necessary to create a webpage or video about that place or object, and will create a prototype of the final QR Code that will be posted around the school.