Physics & Physical Science Demos, Labs, & Projects for High School Teachers

Helping Hand Challenge

Posted on: March 17, 2013

helping handI did this engineering challenge last year, but it didn’t go the way I wanted it to.  I provided the kids with a stick, about 25″ long as the basis of a reach device.  My mistake was allowing them to split the stick in half.  As a result, they all made a big scissor and then made some small modification to make it grip.

This year, I have added a whole new level to the challenge.  The stick can not be cut, only drilled for brass fasteners.  They are given a budget and each item has a cost.  I made sure they can only purchase a single stick with their budget.  Purchasing two of them will put them immediately over budget and cost them lots of points.

The challenge came from, they have a few things there worth looking at if you are into engineering challenges.  I downloaded the information a while ago.  Here is the link for the activity:

Here is how I modified the activity for use in my classroom:  Helping Hand Challenge.  If you use this, let me know what you add or change.  I will be using this tomorrow.  The scoring rubric is at the bottom.

Update:  I’m still angry over how some of the kids approached this.  A couple of the really lazy ones did nothing but complain for two days.  At the last second, they purchased a foot of tape, wrapped it around the stick and then tried picking up the objects with the sticky tape.  Naturally, I changed the rules so that can’t happen next year.  Tape got very expensive.  I also changed the grading to downplay the points earned for moving the object and increasing points for the design.  Essentially, I changed the grading to reflect effort and creativity.  With the change in focus, I will need to watch for students copying ideas.

To be fair, I had a couple excellent designs.  Some were quite well thought out.  I had one group use rubber bands at the tip to increase friction of the grabber. Helping Hand 2013-03-22 09.38.51


1 Response to "Helping Hand Challenge"

This brings back some memories– Years ago…eons ago, my students and I did the National Engineering Design Challenge (NEDC), and had a similar device to what you have here.

Here’s the problem statement:
3rd Annual NEDC Problem Statement 1991-92 “Just out of Reach”

It happens all the time. It’s the height of the sandlot game and the ball rolls under somebody’s porch, just out of reach. The varsity player, home alone in bed with a broken leg, has dropped the TV remote control, just out of reach. A shopper puts parking meter change in her purse while in a questionable neighborhood and — clink — her car keys drop through the storm water grate. Fifty dollars of grocery money has fluttered off the counter and fallen behind the refrigerator. The five-year-old tries to reach his own cereal on the top shelf by climbing on a stack of boxes while the household sleeps. An eighty year-old, suddenly short of breath, finds her nitro-glycerin tablets are one shelf too high … just out of reach!

Your team is to develop a solution that will enable a person to handle — place, retrieve, and manipulate — common household or office items that are beyond his/her ordinary reach.

There were ~10 assorted items: a bag of flour, a light bulb, a dime, etc. that had to be retrieved from ~10 various places– from a high shelf, from around a “refrigerator”, under a bed, down a tube, etc.

Students had to design the device, and also create the simulated locations (lots of cardboard boxes were used), then explain and demonstrate their device in a given time period.

They did well — 2nd place in the state, but at the finals, they didn’t bring the spare parts I told them to bring, and in the (timed) demonstration of their device, the cable snapped!

Still, they enjoyed it a lot!

What do you think? Your opinion matters, leave a reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s New in 2013/2014?

Every year brings a change, this one is no exception.

I will be picking up the sophomore honors Algebra II class to keep them separate from the juniors. This should help accelerate them and put them on a stronger track towards Calculus. Looks like there will be only one section each of Physics and Calculus, but still two of Robotics & Engineering.

Hot topics this year are going to be the Common-Core Standards, Standards-Based Grading (SBG), improving AP Calculus scores, and somehow adding Python, maybe as a club.

Polls in the sidebar

Just a quick poll to help me understand who is stopping by my blog.

Yeah sure, lots from America, but look who else is here…

If you are badly in need of more email or for some reason jonesing for a physics fix, enter your email address so I can bother you with my newest rant on science.

Join 315 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 1,311,938 hits by nerds like me since June 1, 2008
March 2013
« Jan   May »
%d bloggers like this: