Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Pumpkin Design Challenge

Featuring Guest Author Todd Sinclair

This October, the 5th Grade team at Oster Elementary took on a new project inspired by the unofficial - and awesome - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) annual pumpkin carving contest. Engineers at NASA JPL have carved out an hour of time in October over the last seven years to show off their creativity while participating in this fun team building activity. These engineers take time off from designing and building machines that will explore the farthest reaches of outer space to create pumpkin displays with lasers, lights, robotics, and more.

We brought our idea to our incredible STEAM ToSA, Kaitlin Celestre, who quickly devised a plan to help our students tackle this as a design challenge. We provided the students with sessions to explore a variety of tools, including Little Bits, Snap Circuits, and Microbits, with the goal of inspiring design ideas to include in their pumpkin creations. Student teams were then given time to brainstorm a pumpkin design, sketch out their ideas, and develop a list of the electronic components and other items that they would use to further enhance their designs.

Families pitched in with pumpkins, carving tools, and man power to gut the pumpkins on the first day of the building process. Students worked on their designs during the two days before our annual Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 20th. Day One was full of carving, pumpkin painting, and testing the functionality and placement of the electronic components. Day Two was spent finalizing everything from Day One and troubleshooting any issues that arose. Students were fully engaged from the start, and throughout the design process they demonstrated effective teamwork, collaboration, persistence, creativity, and problem solving. Team after team found ways to resolve unexpected design issues to help bring their visions to life. The final projects were incredible.

Follow Todd on Twitter: @sinclairt7

Link to NASA JPL News Release
Link to video on NASA JPL Contest

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