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Friday, March 20, 2015

Messy, Messy, Messy Marble Maze Project

Not unlike the Cardboard Challenge project, the room is a big mess as students craft simple machine marble mazes. Students are using cardboard boxes, plastic sheets, string, plastic containers, and more to weave six simple machines into one marble run.

At any moment during the project you'll hear a lot of negotiation some peaceful and some not so peaceful as design teams make decisions about their mazes. There's lots of trial and error as children connect the recyclables. And of course, there's the spread of good ideas such as how to make a good screw, pulley, or inclined plane for that just right marble movement.

One child asked, "How is this science today?" I responded that it was science in action since students were doing science and math as they build their mazes by measuring, creating and adjusting simple machines, and adapting materials.

Today every team got their own maze "home" spot--a place for their equipment and project. The marble mazes are housed safely around the rim of the room.

Next week I'll introduce a rubric that outlines the project parameters.  The rubric is less for grading and more for guidance as they reach the final stages of the project. I hope to take some pictures of the work in action and copy down some of their incredible learning quotes too to document the building stage.

Project base learning is messy, but important work. An open ended activity like this calls students to use creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills to craft a project that solves a problem and helps them learn valuable content principles. With that in mind, I'll accept the mess, and continue to support and develop the wonderful learning possible with a project like this.