Over the past few months, STAR school middle schoolers have been learning about simple machines and engineering. They have undertaken numerous challenges; building Popsicle stick catapults, designing bridges, and engineering miniature Ferris wheels. Each project required the students to think critically, work as a team to accomplish a common goal, and troubleshoot to overcome unexpected obstacles. Additionally, the students have been learning how to balance creativity and function- following the printed directions to assemble a working stand for their Ferris wheel while also decorating said stand with bright markers and color coordinated rubber bands.
This balance was illustrated by the latest engineering challenge- to build the tallest skyscraper possible out of Legos. The only restrictions on the skyscraper designs was that they needed to stand on their own. The rest was left up to the imaginations of the students! The results were predictably creative and fun, with one “portable” skyscraper on wheels, another growing plastic Lego plants out of every story, and a third with a giant robotic arm sprouting from the top.
Although these designs may not be realistic for life-size skyscrapers, they were a great way for our middle school students to think about the challenges engineers face when building tall buildings and have fun while doing it. And who knows, maybe one of our students will be designing a new addition to the New York City skyline in 15 years and look back on this activity as the inspiration for their career.
Written by Regan Gee