I love it when I’m able to make my students enjoy and learn at the same time. The structured curriculum and exam focus don’t make it easy for me to do that, but nonetheless, I try.
Another important aspect of learning, which many talk about and give terms like “higher order problem solving skills” or “thinking out of the box”, is developing a wondering and inquisitive mind, thinking ” why does it do that ” and “what if it does that”.
I sought to tackle these with an egg drop experiment last Saturday.
First, I asked a series of quick quiz-type questions and they earned points for answering correctly. Then they used these points to bid for materials such as cardboard, plastic bags, strings and rubber bands. Using these materials, they were to design a device to protect an egg from cracking when it’s dropped from a height of 1m.
This isn’t a test. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. The point is that they are free to use their creativity and think and have fun. Their first device, using limited materials, won’t be perfect.
The students all took up the challenge readily. One boy designed a parachute-like device which I initially thought wouldn’t work, but it created sufficient drag to slow it down considerably. Another team designed a long prism shaped device and added a wing so it would land facing the most favourable position. One team used padding on all directions. They were so focused on the challenge and were still adding modifications to it until the last second of the allocated time.
Then we went outside and tested our devices. Despite the odds, all of them survived the 1m drop. We tested them again at 2m and finally dropped them one storey down. The parachute device nearly made it.
Nobody was harmed in the process, and there was little mess / cleanup.
They enjoyed it thoroughly and so did I. I hope to do more activities like this in future.