This week we have been very excited to kick off our MIT collaboration STEAM challenges for the year. We started with the Epic Identity challenge in grades 3 - 5.
We began the 3 days by inspiring our students, and introducing them to the challenge theme of superheroes. All of the teachers involved, and even the Primary principal Mr Richard, came dressed as superheroes! This was a great surprise for the students. We then explored what makes a superhero and some of the gadgets, costumes and skills that they have.
We introduced the students to the design cycle and the overview of the 3 days, before breaking up into mixed grade groups to attend workshops. These workshops were hosted across the school and explicitly taught our students skills that they would need later in the prototyping phase of their work. Workshops included how to make a circuit using conductive tape and LEDs, safe cutting and gluing techniques, sewing, ICT skills to make a comic and combining LEDs with material. These workshops really allowed our students to run wild with their creativity when it came to the ideating phase of the design cycle.
We recapped the goal of the 3 days: to improve things humans can do by designing and making a piece of wearable technology. Your piece of wearable technology (like a tool, costume or gadget) must have at least one super power. Then in their groups the students came up with as many different ideas, to address the goal, as possible. They then learnt about ranking ideas, and used a rubric of 5 criteria to score their ideas, and select their top 2 ideas to prototype.
Then came the fun! Prototyping. Students had access to a range of recycled and new materials, to bring their designs to life. It was amazing to be in this room and see students buzzing with excitement and completely engaged in their tasks. They were creative, animated and articulate when discussing their ideas, and how they were building them. Students were constantly faced with challenges along the way, as they tested, tweaked, problem solved and ultimately improved and refined their designs to a point they were happy with. We were thrilled to be able to have Mr Christian, an parent from our school community, who is an engineer for Volkswagen, come and share his expertise during this part of the process, and offer students feedback while they were building.
Finally, when students had completed their builds, they broke off into break out spaces where they could concentrate on how to present their designs back to an audience of their peers and teachers. This was a great chance to hear students talk about the design thinking process they went through and how they overcame some of their design challenges. Also, the creativity and imagination articulated during these presentations was fantastic. We look forward to being able to display the student’s work at the conclusion to the upcoming challenge week activities.