BFA-Fairfax Innovation Lab Designs Solutions to Real-World Challenges

bfainnovationlab3The Elementary School Innovation Lab (grades 3-5) has begun an exciting unit on the inquiry process, in which students will design a solution to a real-world challenge. Teachers Sandy Brown, Kendra Myers, Victoria Reynolds, and Rhonda Siemons have been hard at work since this summer planning opportunities for students to explore their natural worlds. See the Innovation Lab Blog to learn more about what’s happening in this incredible learning space. Between Thanksgiving and the Holiday Break, they are providing a structured process — scientific inquiry — for students engage in that exploration.  During this unit, students will develop their communication, problem-solving, creativity, perseverance and collaboration skills as they consider a real-world challenge and its potential solutions.

Students will have access to a variety of engineering and technology resources to help them in the design process.  Students will have the option of designing and/or printing prototypes of their designs using 3D-scanning and 3D-printing technology.  Other students will use SparkFun electrical circuitry kits to delve into the circuits necessary to make their solution a reality.  Finally, students for whom sensory technology is a component of their design will use Pocket Lab sensors that can measure temperature, velocity, acceleration, magnetic field, pressure, and altitude.  Students that are looking to create a full-scale model of their design will have access to a variety of construction tools.  

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Future engineers learn about proper use of construction tools.

Last week, students presented their design ideas to a “Teacher Tank” (modeled after the show Shark Tank, in which entrepreneurs present business ideas to successful business people). Teachers probed students’ understandings of the problem they were trying to solve, as well as the extent to which they had planned their solution.  Once students traversed the rigors of the Teacher Tank, they were given the go-ahead to begin the design phase of their project.  The student rang a bell to signify to all students in the innovation lab that they had been given the green light to pursue their idea.  It looked like this:

Yes, that’s a broom holding up the Teacher Tank sign.  Not everything in the Innovation Lab has to be high-tech, you know!

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