An Attempt at Engineering and Design

Last week, the students of 4A were given a task: design and build a hovercraft with a partner using limited materials. After drawing out plans on Tuesday, students began building their designs on Thursday. The class began buzzing with activity as students brought their designs to life and tested them out. Then they tinkered and tested some more. And again. And again.

Eventually, the building time expired and presentation time began. Each group explained their thought process to the class and tested their hovercrafts out. One failed attempt after another left us all wondering what went wrong.

In the end, we learned that scientists don’t always get it right on their first attempt and that failure is a valuable learning tool.

After it was all said and done, I asked the students a few questions. First, “Before we started building our hovercrafts, how many of you were confident that your design would be successful?” Almost everyone raised their hand, many with sheepish grins on their faces. Then, “If you were given another opportunity to build a hovercraft, how many of you think your second attempt would be successful?” Again, almost everyone raised their hand, many with budding confidence. They were already thinking about what they would do differently if given a second chance. It looks like I might just have to give them that second chance.

Check out the video. Who knew failing could be so fun?

Building Hovercrafts in Fourth Grade Science Class. from Kevin Baumbach on Vimeo.