Finding time to let students explore ideas and things related to my science class is essential. This summer I've been busy visiting all sorts of garage sales, recycle shops, re-purposing stores and estate sales. Mostly I've been looking for inexpensive stuff....keyboards, thermostats, cameras, coffeemakers are just some of my finds. The goal is to drag it all back to Room 66 for that Wondering Corner I'm committed to building. I want students to have a place where they can reverse engineer stuff...see how it works. And then require them to explain to the rest of us what they learned....their choice how to explain and what to explain. I'm not sure but I think I'd like to require them to draw a sketch of what/how it works....maybe suggest Google Sketchup as a challenge.
What if we could extend the Corner by having students "find" stuff to reverse engineer? They could bring in these items and donate them to the corner. I'll just need to find enough bins to keep all the separate projects separated!!! That can't be a big problem can it?
Have you ever tried a reverse engineering Wondering Corner like this? Do you have tips you could share with me about how to make it really work well?
So where did this idea come from? My seed source!!!
All this seemed to come into focus as I read the Exploratorium's Tinkering blog. My first love on their blog was the marble machines....ingeniously designed to be flexible and continually changing, I love these pegboards made into a marble machine. I'd imagine hours of experimenting and hopefully getting students to engage with the materials in ways that I've never imagined. I've been haunting the local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store for all the components and am nearing a stockpile of stuff big enough to get it underway very soon. Just need pegboard and I'm ready to go.
Today, the Tinkering blog posted this movie. Markus Kayser not only built a very cool machine but the movie is done in such a way to make you want to know more and more and more. See what you think.
Did you expect that as his product?
Can't you imagine what buzz would echo throughout my room if I showed this and stopped it before it was revealed what the items were that the mysterious man was making? I'm freaking out. I can't imagine how pumped up they will be.
Melding all this together into one idea
I'm going to use this as a kickoff activity to another idea from If you Build It, They will Learn. An NSTA book with loads of ideas. In particular, I've been gathering materials(again...budget constraints you know) to create the Mystery Box projects. Basically it's a small box that hangs from ceiling with two cords...one out of the top and one out of the bottom. If you pull on the bottom one, the box ascends because of a clever (and hidden from view) wheel and axle...gearing stuff.
I would love to challenge students to build their own Mystery Box without telling them how mine works. Can you imagine what they'd do if I challenged them to design their own version of the Sun Cutter...but gave them an entire semester or year to figure it out?
All of these are destined to be in my Wondering Corner. Wonder how it will turn out? me too.