SCCS fourth grade student engineers paired up in teams and explored the engineering design process as they asked, imagined, planned, created, tested, improved and presented their marble run projects this week.

“First, students watched a short video by the Dyson company showing some marble run prototypes created by their engineers to get them thinking of ideas,” shared Melissa Calderon, fourth grade teacher. “Then they were placed in groups of three students per project and given time to collaborate and brainstorm ideas for building their marble run.”

Students were given materials such as poster board, paper towel, and toilet paper tubes, masking tape, a cup, and cardboard pieces to create their marble runs. Points were given for incorporating jumps, changes in direction, and any loops, while ultimately needing to have their marble go through all the way to the end unobstructed and landing in a cup at the bottom. There was an extra challenge for the students to earn bonus points by having their marble take the longest to get to the end.

“Having students experience the steps of the engineering design process and understand that it may take multiple tries before coming up with a solution that works is the goal,” continued Mrs. Calderon. “It is important for them to see that engineers often have to choose persistence and patience, not easily giving up when something doesn’t work as planned, and to continually problem-solve to figure it out until it finally works, and then continue to refine their designs."

As students worked in teams, they reinforced skills of collaboration as they imagined designs. When students understand the value of teamwork, they can come up with even better solutions. Additionally, this project aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for Engineering Design for grades 3-5 which states that students who demonstrate an understanding can “define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.”

“I love seeing the excitement students have as they are working on their projects and showing others how it works,” shared Mrs. Calderon. “Some of the students even made models at home and were sharing their ideas with their parents. It was so great to see them enjoy the process of creating and learning. It is such a joy to teach our students every day and to share the wonders of God’s incredible design and creativity within the realm of science with them.”

Fourth grade students continue discovering the different aspects of STEM in science as they gear up for the Science Expo later this year.