The third graders at Mesa Verde Elementary were still very studious as they completed an engineering project during the recent final week of school. Third grade teacher Gracie Northern got the idea from “Mario Day” which was a character activity at Mesa leading the students to build a Marble Run out of cardboard paper towel and toilet paper rolls.
The Marble Run is a maze or sculpture that youngsters use to race marbles. The project took about three hours and they used tape, scissors and some art materials to make their structure. Northern noted that the students watched a video on how to design a marble run.
“Students had to work cooperatively in teams,” stated Northern. “They had to use trial and error to figure out how to keep their track on the wall. They had to test their designs after each new section of the run was added and problem solve as issues came up. Most importantly they were not supposed to give up.”
As a team they had to have a plan and construct their course, keeping gravity in mind which would affect the marble when it was launched on the track. It was their decision to construct for speed or creativity.
They presented their designs and discussed what worked and what they could improve.
“Most of those were successful in designing a marble run that totally worked,” added Northern. “Those groups worked well as cooperative teams and did a great job solving problems as they developed. They had the opportunity to be creative in their construction and have fun. They got to show their work off to the other groups.”
Northern noted that some of the challenges included the students struggling to work as a team, solving the design problems after suggestions, and wanting to give up when the task was challenging.
She said, “We all agreed that in life we could not give up when something became difficult. We should keep trying. Overall, students enjoyed the science activity and learned a little about engineering, perseverance and teamwork.”
Mesa Verde closed out the school year in late May with a Kindergarten and Fifth grade promotion.