Lessons in engineering, teamworkOsakis 4th graders build marble mazes
By: Amy Chaffins, The Osakis Review
Recently, in Stan Moore’s 4th grade science class, students plunked marbles through cardboard tube mazes, trying to keep the marbles in motion as long as possible.
As they busily worked through the last six minutes of their construction time, some students were overheard saying things like, “We have to make this part stronger,” and “Hey, hold it up right here,” and “This is awesome.”
The three-day marble maze, engineering project was a lesson in engineering and teamwork, according to Moore.
“Learning to be engineers can be frustrating. But this isn’t just about engineering design, it’s about learning social skills and working with your partners,” Moore told the students. “You all did a good job with that today.”
The marble mazes were required to stand at least 2 feet off the ground, make three or more turns, keep the marble in motion for at least three seconds, and when the marble discharged from the final stretch of tube, it had to stay on the project’s platform.
After the last of the cardboard tubes were taped into place and practice runs were complete, each team took a turn bringing their maze to the front of the class to present their project.
Each team held their breath when Mr. Moore started a stopwatch and dropped the marble into their mazes for the final test.
Plunk. Roll. Roll. Plunk. Roll. Plunk. Roll.
“That was 3.4 seconds,” Moore said after one team’s marble test. There were cheers from the class.
After each team’s maze was tested, Moore congratulated the teams for meeting the requirement of keeping the marble in motion for at least three seconds.
After eight years of teaching, Moore said this project is the most fun for him to see the students solve problems and work together.