The Tech Museums Design ChallengeLearning approach engages students in thedesign process to solve a relevant, real-world problem. Students reinforce theirscience, mathematics, social studies, andlanguage arts content knowledge, throughan open-ended design process that resultsin an original, team-driven solution.Students take responsibility for assessingtheir own progress and incorporate peerfeedback as they conceptualize andredesign their projects.
Goals of Design Challenge Learning• Students start thinking creatively.• Students learn to problem solve.• Outcomes (projects) are innovative.• Failure is a big part of the process and students learn todeal with failure and how to overcome.• Students have to learn to collaborate and worktogether.• Students learn to takerisks.Through this try, fail, learnapproach, students developskills and habits of mind ofSilicon Valley innovators.
Real World Problems:• Create a solution to help earthquakesurvivors! After an earthquake severelydamages a bridge, your device will reachand rescue a person stranded on thebridge.• Marine scientists are asking The TechChallenge’s young engineers to help them clean the seas. Your team’schallenge is to design and build a device that can collect trash from theocean without harming marine life.• Create a device to deliver water to a tank located in a village on a hill abovethe river. There is no electricity in the village; only the flow of the river canbe used to generate power.• Create a device that can deliver a payload of up to 6 geological instrumentsto the top of the volcano.• Design, build and operate an unmanned device that can survive a 12 -footdrop into a Martian crater and then successfully exit the crater by ascendinga 6-foot crater wall.
CIRCLE OF PONGSometimes it is safe tokeep your distance.Imagine if you had todeposit a small piece ofmonitoring equipment intoa lava pit that is located inthe middle of an island.How would you do it?
What is the Problem:• What is the limits?• How can you solve it?The Challenge:Design a Device that will deposit sensitive monitoring equipment (a ping-pong ball) into aLava Pit (paper cup) that is located in the middle of and Island (the purple tableclothfolded or arranged into a large circle).Constraints:• Each team member must be actively involved in the deployment and operation of thedevice• The sensitive Monitoring equipment must start outside the Island and must come to restinside the Lava Pit - purple tablecloth.• Team members may not touch the sensitive monitoring equipment, except to place it inthe device prior to deployment.• At no time may any team member reach or extend any part of his/her body into theimaginary cylinder that extends above lava pit - (purple table cloth).• You may use only those items/materials that your materials kit provides.• You may not destroy, modify, or dramatically change the sensitive monitoring equipment.• Your team has 30 minutes to develop, build, and test your device prototype.
Explore:• Find out what others have done• Gather materials and play with themMaterials Kit: Per Team of 4-6 people10 cm masking tape8 large paperclips40 cm string3 twisty ties6 rubber bands1 small short plasticsolo cup1 8 ½ X 11 inch sheet of scratch paper1 small bag (containing all other items)1 straw (acting as a tape dispenser)
Design:• Think of lots of Ideas• Pick one and make a plan• Make a drawing of a model Be visual: map it!Encourage wild ideasDefer judgmentStay focused on topicBuild on the ideas ofothersListen to 1 person at atimeGo for quantity
Create:• Use your plan to build your ideaDesign ConstraintsSelect materials:think creativelyExperiment with a designRecord your choicesDocument your observationsand resultsRepeat!
Try It Out:• Test your IdeaRemember the Lava Pit (tablecloth) is a hot area and we don’twant any burning flesh or singed hairYour device may FAIL!• Failure, however, can betransformed into alearning experience thatactually improves yourchilds ability to succeedin the future. As HenryFord once said, "Failure isonly the opportunity tobegin again moreintelligently."
How can we help turn their student’s failure into a lesson in success?Help the student identify the emotions she/he feels and express those in an acceptableway. When your student is not successful, whether in the classroom or on the ball field, weshould be available to help them work through the emotions.Give him/her an opportunity to talk about why they think things didnt go the way theywanted or expected them to go. Even youngsters can express their feelings, and one of thebest things we can do is listen.Let your students know that winning isnt the most important thing. Give as much praisefor his effort and his attitude as you do for a winning outcome.Talk to your student about his strengths--the things that you observe as his positivetraits. Conversations such as this can help build self-esteem in even a very young child.Keep your expectations for your students reasonable and realistic. Dont expect youreight year old to master a piano piece by Beethoven in two days, just because another studentcan.Remember that your student watches how you respond to failures in your own life. Itsokay to share your disappointment and important to show them how you learn from theexperience.
Make it Better• Think about how your design can beapproved.• Modify your design and try again.
Spend the next 20 minutes using to engineering designprocess to create your device.Spend the next 10 minutes testing your device for thegroup.• Don’t forget to test and redesign• Teams will exhibit their device, share with the group their designdecisions (what tradeoffs they made, what materials they chose,what worked/didn’t work etc), and then demonstrate their device.
A signature program of The Tech Museum of Innovation, The Tech Challenge isan annual team design challenge for students in grades 5-12 that introduces andreinforces the science and engineering design process with a hands-on projectgeared to solving a real-world problem.• Open to students in grades 5-12.• 3 grade levels: Elementary: 5-6; Middle School: 7-8; High School: 9-12.• Participants collaborate in teams of 2 to 6 people.• Registration fees are only $50 for the entire team.• Fees waived for Title I schools/after-school programs.• Solutions can be created withcommon, low-cost materials.• There are no pre-qualifyingconditions to enter.• Special needs students areencouraged.The Tech Challenge