Our 6th graders came through the lab during their Wednesday afternoon “flex block” for an introductory activity. I have to admit that this whole event, being so close to the start of school and all, kind of snuck up on all of us (or at least me!) and we barely had any time to prep for it. After a quick meeting with the teachers in the morning, Diego and I scrambled to figure out some fun, interesting building activity that would be doable both in a short amount of class time (45 min!) and with a group of girls who for the most part have not been exposed to building and tinkering.
Diego quickly suggested that we plan an activity based on some mechanical boxes that he had done with an art class last semester. We can have the parts for the basic box pre-cut and limit ourselves to two mechanisms (the cam and the crank). Then the students can use the resulting motions to make whatever they want, be it a dolphin jumping out of the waves, a bunny chasing a carrot, or a Hunger Games-inspired scene complete with bow and arrow!