Design Thinking, Science and Cardboard

king1What do you get when you cross lots of cardboard with creative fifth graders studying the engineering process? First of all, you temporarily get a slightly messy classroom, but, in the end, you’re left with lots of learning, many proud students, and some amazing cardboard chairs. Some chairs sturdy enough to even hold up a stocky science teacher!

Create a chair (with a back) out of nothing but cardboard (no tape or fasteners).king2

This was the challenge that teacher Alex King gave to his Sand Creek Intermediate fifth graders as they began their engineering unit. Oh, and one more requirement–the created chair would have to hold up Mr. King!

Through the chair-engineering process, the students mirrored a process that engineers use every day. Teams defined their problem and asked questions. They put creative problem-solving skills to work, brainstorming options and designing. They planned, built, tested, and improved their creations until the day of truth–when Mr. King donned a helmet and tested the cardboard chairs himself!

Photo Jan 27, 12 24 22 PM

Photo Jan 27, 8 25 48 AM

Regardless of whether chairs withstood or caved, Mr. King declared the project a huge success for all. His goal for the students was to experience the process–to use design thinking in the scientific realm, and to develop a frame of reference with which to consider the engineering principles they will be studying in the coming weeks.

Inquiry-based learning. #HSE_21