Over the past few weeks Cohort A has been interested in various activities related to design. Last week we started to design our own marble ramps. The children all collaborated on how to make a successful marble ramp using cardboard and tape. They split themselves up into groups, discussing how they wanted to connect their parts of the marble ramp to form one big marble ramp. "Let's try attaching it to the wall and make it like a loop!" said one child to another, "Yeah, but how would we do that?" replied the other child.
Another group of children began constructing their part of the ramp on the stairs, using them to support the ramp. "We have to get the box to stay up", said one child as they were problem solving to get a box they were using to stay in place. Once they were successful with that, they began to discuss how they wanted to build the rest of the ramp. "Let's make it go all the way down the stairs" said one child to another. The other child nodded in agreement and they worked together to finish their ramp.
Some of the other children decided to make their own smaller ramps instead of connecting them to form a bigger one. "We need more cardboard underneath our ramp so it doesn't fall!", said one child to another, "We need more tape too", replied the other child.
This activity led to another activity the next week. The children built a Rube Goldberg Machine. The goal was to construct the machine so that it could move a ball. They used the stairs to start constructing a ramp so that the pieces they were using would roll down at a fast enough speed to move the ball. One child made this observation; "We need to build railings so that the pieces don't fall off the ramp when they are rolling down". Their partner agreed with an enthusiastic "Okay!". They began to build railings using different methods to construct them until they found one that worked.
The children noticed that despite having the railings, a piece they were using didn't always roll down the way they wanted it to. They discussed different ways to get the piece to move the way they wanted it to. "What if we build more railings?" one child asked. "We can try using a marble!" said another.
After testing out different ways of using a marble, they realized that the marble was too small to move the ball the way they wanted it, so they switched back to the piece they were using before. They figured out a method to get the piece to roll down the way they wanted and were very excited at this discovery!
While the children were unable to get the ball to move on its own with their machine, they were not bothered by it as they had fun constructing it and testing it out. One of the children suggested that next time we should have more of the larger pieces brought out so they could construct more railings.
It was fun to see them work together to problem solve and share their different ideas with each other. All ideas were listened to and used to try to make their Rube Goldberg Machine work.