Teaching a science class this year has me doing more projects than I’ve probably ever done in all my previous years as a math teacher. Setting up projects in an effective way has been a definite learning curve.
This week, my students have been working on designing egg drop devices. I had students break into pairs and brainstorm three possible designs given a list of allowed materials and project constraints. They had to draw a picture of each design and label all of the components.
The next day, I posted these designs around the room. Each pair of students was given a pad of sticky notes to use to comment on each design. Students had to share an aspect of the design they liked and a suggestion for improving each design. This was my first time ever implementing a gallery walk in my classroom.
I bought a bulk pack of sticky notes a few years ago, and they come in super-handy for an activity like this!
This ended up working really well. Students were giving thoughtful suggestions to help the other groups improve their designs.
Some groups were hesitant to participate because they thought this would lead to the other groups stealing their ideas.
10 minutes after launching this activity, I had an idea that I really wish I had had 10 minutes BEFORE launching the activity. Since each group had made three designs, I wish I had told the groups to rank the designs from 1 to 3 on their sticky notes in addition to giving written feedback.
When students were done rotating, they got their designs off the wall and read the feedback from their peers.
Each pair had to decide which design they would be building from the three potential designs they had come up with. Then, students had to finalize their plans for the design.
I asked each student pair to write a paragraph describing their final design. Then, they had to describe how they had used the feedback from other groups to refine their designs.
I hope I structured this project in such a way to make my students think critically about their designs. I guess we’ll see how the egg drop goes tomorrow!