Second graders in Justine Hall’s class worked on a challenge with dominoes and marbles when they visited the Gates Lab for Tinker Time. After a discussion of Rube Goldberg-style contraptions with Elizabeth Leddy, innovation specialist, they set to work in groups of three to build a marble run that could knock down 20 dominoes and move a toy car at least 12 inches.
“This is difficult and you have to stretch your brain,” Mrs. Leddy reminded them. As she circulated among the groups, she noticed students trying different strategies such as dividing up the tasks (building the marble run and lining up the dominoes) or focusing on the marble run first.
Noting the activity had a limit of 17 minutes, Mrs. Leddy said, “Part of the challenge is learning how to use the time wisely and plan the project so you can get through all the stages of building, testing and experimenting.”
Keeping the dominoes from tipping over prematurely was a challenge, but for some students like Dennis Coughlin, it was also the most fun.
After time was up, students gathered to share some of their successes, such as communicating with their team members, being creative to solve issues, and persevering when the contraption failed. Figuring out different strategies to make it work was an important component of the activity.
As they left, Mrs. Leddy reminded students to continue reflecting and to think about what they did well (their strengths) and what they would do differently next time. As students visit the Gates Lab for Tinker Time throughout the year, they will be offered more opportunities to “stretch” their brains, work within groups, and employ critical and creative thinking. Go innovate!
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.