Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!




Sharing Prototypes: Presidio Challenge

Sharing Prototypes: Presidio Challenge

We met in the Presidio to share our prototypes with each other. After an exuberant greeting, the 7th graders first shared their field guides with the 2nd graders. They showed them their work, explained how it was specifically designed and tailored to meet each boy’s needs. For example, some included graphics, illustrations, or were organized differently. The 2nd graders tested them out by using the to identify plants in the park. They shared feedback using safe terminology, “I notice” and “I wonder”. Then we swapped and the 2nd graders got to share their designs for bird awareness with the 7th graders. These had a more open form, taking shape in the way of apps, books, signs, and games. The 2nd graders were beaming with pride as their buddies listened attentively and gave encouraging feedback. They then discussed possible next steps for refining and producing their prototype.

During this weeklong challenge, the boys felt engaged (cheering when they saw designing in our schedule!), focused (deliberate in their work), empathetic (honing on their specific buddy’s needs), and creative (generating ideas upon ideas upon ideas). We are looking forward to our next cross-grade collaboration in the winter: redesigning the cable car experience!






















Empathizing: Interviewing at the Marina Campus

Earlier this week, we introduced the design challenge to our students.  The 2nd graders were excited for a number of reasons, and working with 7th graders topped the list.  This morning, the 7th graders came down to the Marina Campus so we could interview each other.  We had brainstormed a bunch of open-ended questions to ask them, and they came armed with questions of their own and templates for note-taking.   One strategy we used if we got stumped was to “Act Like a 3 Year Old” and ask “Why?” five times, to get details and stories.  As teachers, we were so impressed at how attentively all the boys were listening and how thoughtful they were in their responses.  Signs of empathy building!  We are looking forward to defining need statements from all this data!

2nd-7th grade interviews

2nd-7th grade interviews

2nd-7th grade interviews

2nd-7th grade interviews

2nd-7th grade interviews

2nd-7th grade interviews