with Leigh Ann Yoder
This week we worked as Civil Engineers building bridges. Each team of two students was provided with straws, paper clips, push pins and two feet of masking tape. Their goal was to build a two foot bridge that could support the weight of golf balls. The biggest obstacles were time and materials. We discussed that this is often the case in real life. Engineers are usually given projects that have due dates and must work with very limited resources. The teams all worked well and finished in time, however, all of the bridges sagged. We discussed why they sagged and what could have been done to improve their designs. All students agreed that adding a side support structure would have greatly improved their bridges.
Some teams were able to hold up to three golf balls! Terrific work.
The First Straw (Not the Last!)
Luckily we had enough time to read a short story about the invention of drinking straws. What was so interesting about this story was the fact that drinking straws are generally not considered a necessity. The man that invented the drinking straw (originally made out of paper and hand rolled) only did so because he wanted to improve the quality of his own drinks. Prior to the drinking straw people would drink out of reeds, but that left a yucky taste in your mouth and altered the taste of the drink. Most people thought his drinking straws would be non-profitable, yet he ended up becoming very successful just because people wanted straws like his. The moral of the story is to invent whatever you want, and don't worry about its need or marketability. You never know what simple invention could be the next big fad!
I also spent a bit of time going over the final projects with the students. We will continue to discuss and have project updates over the next few weeks.
FINAL PROJECT - Work! Work! Work!
Stories of Inventions (Optional): Read Chapter 17
Board Games (Optional): Continue to improve your board games for our Engineering Fair