First graders at ASA love to build, create, and have fun of course! Mrs. Schneider’s first grade students were able to do all three of those things this fall as they spent time developing their engineering design skills. First, the students read a story which presented a problem. In the story, two children built a treehouse in their backyard; however, when they went inside and closed the door they couldn’t see anything! It was too dark—there was no light. Our class identified this problem and, using the prior knowledge they had gained while investigating light this school year, they came up with a list of possible solutions.
The 3 solutions they came up with were:
(1) light candles
(2) put in lamps
(3) add windows.
After listing their solutions, the students evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of each solution. In the end, they determined adding windows was the best solution since it was the safest choice, allowed the children to see outside from inside, and did not require electricity.
Once a solution was agreed upon the students worked in engineering teams to design a treehouse. They used a small paper box as a treehouse model and various materials to represent the window coverings. After creating their treehouse model the teams took it to the testing station to see if their design let in enough light and allowed light to be blocked out of the treehouse when necessary (in case the children want to take a nap or have a glow in the dark party in the treehouse:)). After testing their design, the students went back and made any necessary revisions to their design.
Upon the design being finalized the teams presented their treehouse with their classmates and shared how they made some of their decisions as well as any changes they had to make in their process. The treehouse engineering design project is annually a favorite project for the first grade students at ASA. And maybe, just maybe,one of the designed treehouses will inspire a new treehouse to be added somewhere in or around Grand Rapids!