Author Archives: Tom Burrow

MythBusting Begins!

That’s right, we are kicking off the 2013 Town School MythBusting project!

For the next few weeks, 8th grade science students will be working in the design thinking process to guide them in creating their very own episode of the popular TV series MythBusters. 

We will tackle the driving question:

“How might we design an apparatus to test a popular myth?”

The boys will work in pairs to explore different common myths before defining a particular myth they would like to test. They will then brainstorm possible approaches and work on prototyping an apparatus to put their myth to the test. Along the way, they will record footage of their design process to create an episode of MythBusters starring them!

Past myths have included:

  • Is sliding really faster than running during a close call in baseball?
  • Could a person really hold enough helium-filled balloons to lift them off of the ground?
  • Could a penny dropped off of the Empire State Building really harm someone?

Final episodes will be screened (with popcorn) in the STEM lab during the week of Dec. 16-20.

 

 

 

 

 

Making Waves

How can we build a boat with 4 paper cups, a square of plastic wrap, 10 plastic straws, and a strip of duct tape? This is the challenge we recently put to the 8th grade physics class.  To make things even more exciting, we held a little competition–which boat could hold the most pennies before capsizing?

Rapid Prototyping!

Rapid Prototyping!

The goals of this challenge were to:

1. Give the boys an experience using the design thinking process with constraints. In this case, the constraints were the materials and limited time (prototypes were built in a mere 30 minutes).

2. Demonstrate their understanding of the concepts of buoyancy and density in a novel situation.

Check out the winning boat below, which managed to hold 350 pennies!

Next Stop: America's Cup!

Next Stop: America’s Cup!

 

 

Bungee Design Challenge Is Underway!

On Friday we kicked off our first upper school STEM project of this school year: The Bungee Design Challenge.  Town School 8th graders are tackling the question: “How might we use a mathematical model to design an exciting, yet safe bungee system?”  This project originated when math teachers Garrett Frank and Hilary McArthur were looking for an opportunity to teach linear scaling in a fun and exciting activity. This year I am thrilled to be collaborating with them, and we have been working to create a challenge where the boys must use their understanding of linear algebra, forces, and the laws of motion to build an elastic tether to safely bungee jump an action figure. The project is structured within the design thinking framework, and the boys will also incorporate a deeper sense of their prospective users to inform their bungee system design. The action figures are scheduled to be launched from above the ENI workshop at the Marina campus on Wednesday, October 9. Stay tuned!

  • Exploration and Empathizing: Students watch footage of bungee jumpers to better understand how linear algebra can help them design fun and safe bungee-jumping system.

  • Defining the Problem: Students frame their challenge in terms of what a bungee jumper would  want to experience (i.e. get really close to the ground, long rebound, etc.)

  • Ideation: Students engage is lively brainstorming session to identify a range of possible solutions to the challenge.

  • Prototyping and Testing: Students rapidly crank out small-scale versions of bungee systems, dropping their action figures from tables, the ceiling, and stair-wells around campus. The goal here is “failing-forward!”
Brainstorming Session

Brainstorming Session

Rapid Prototyping!

Rapid Prototyping!

Ready to Test!

Ready to Test!

Our Test Subjects Ponder Their Fate...

Our Test Subjects Ponder Their Fate…