Helping Hand Challenge
Posted March 17, 2013on:
I 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 pbs.org/designsquad, 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: http://pbskids.org/designsquad/parentseducators/resources/helping_hand.html
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.