Zipping Into STEM Education at Bolles

Innovation, problem-solving and teamwork were the themes of a recent maker space lesson in the Copeland Library. The task? Build a functioning zip line that would whisk a straw-harnessed balloon up, up and away!

Michelle Mas, Bolles Lower School Whitehurst Campus librarian, explained a few other parameters to the students before they paired up and went to work on their zip line construction using the few resources they were given. Within minutes, the Copeland Library was festooned in colored string and balloons as students worked zealously on discovering a solution.

“This kind of collaborative environment allows students to seek out challenges beyond his or her comfort zone – they know the rules and work within them, but have the freedom to try out their own ideas and amend their plans as they go along,” Mas said. “A growth mindset that tolerates risk and failure is a necessary step for success and innovation.”

One pair of students designed a perfectly functioning zip line, but the balloon got caught on a library plant. The solution? Move the plant.

“This is a fun exercise, but it’s also hands-on learning, exploration and STEM education at its best,” Mas said.

At the end of the challenge, students regrouped to talk about what worked and what did not in their designs, also known as the “learning from mistakes” part of the lesson.

Does your school do something similar?

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