Faculty Team Competes to “Build a Better Mousetrap”
Graland’s innovation team put their invention skills on display when they competed in the annual UpCycle event at RAFT (Resource Area for Teachers). The team, Marty Twarogowski, Elizabeth Leddy and Jorge Chavez, leads Graland in integrating lessons of empathy, creative thinking, critical thinking, collaboration, grit/perseverance, and experimentation across campus, from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
The challenge attracted corporate teams from across Denver who were tasked with designing a mousetrap for the “rodents of unusual size” from the movie The Princess Bride. Using a box of materials provided by RAFT, as well as corporate-branded promotional products, teams designed a Rube Goldberg-style mousetrap and brought it to the event on Thursday, September 26. A “Rube Goldberg” machine is designed to execute a simple task in an elaborate and overcomplicated way. The inventors in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Beauty and the Beast, for example, were experts at the Rube Goldberg-style of machine design!
“This was a fantastic community-building opportunity for our team,” shared Elizabeth Leddy, innovation specialist. “We involved eighth grade Gates inventors for the initial design ideas, and then collaborated with our team and other teachers to design the final prototype. We had to use critical and creative thinking to design the mousetrap, and have perseverance when things didn’t go as planned.”
In fact, the innovation skills taught by Graland teachers were celebrated by other competitors at the RAFT event. “I met several young women engineers who said they wished they’d been taught at an earlier age how persistence during failure results in learning and growth,” said Mrs. Leddy.
The entire UpCycle experience was modeled after RAFT’s narrative-driven curriculum units, and Graland’s entrance to the event, a fundraiser for RAFT, was sponsored by former Head of School, Ronni McCaffrey, and her partner, Barbara Frank. RAFT facilitates hands-on learning for kids by providing educators access to attribute-rich materials, student-centered content, and immersive learning experiences.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.