We then discuss how different designs come about. Often there are water bottles sitting at the desks, so I will pick up two different designs and ask the students to talk about what is the same and different about the bottles. The bottles all hold water, but the tops, the color, the size, and the shape can all be different. I ask them why. Eventually, we get to the idea that different engineers have different ideas about how to design the bottles for different needs. I then ask them where the ideas come from, anad they will answer their brains. This discussion leads into the creativity exercise.
- In the photograph below, you can see some of the materials we included in the box, which were wooden blocks, index cards, rubber bands, a paper clip, a pipe cleaner, a sheet torn from a magazine, a chopstick, unit cubes, and a straw. You can see the clear cup where the marble and metal ball are placed.
The series of photos below show various teams with some of their solutions. These girls are using a straw to move the metal ball.
In general, the students like this activity. Their enthusiasm is always the thing that keeps me coming back. I was asked if I could come back and run this activity again the next day, and if I would come back the following week. I just hope what I am leaving them with is a more positive outlook on science and engineering, and hopefully sparking an interest that will continue with them throughout school.