Friday, November 29, 2013
Many of us remember agonizing over algebraic equations, geometric degrees and, good grief, trigonometry...but what possible reason could we have for learning all of that? Well, for one, if we wanted to mount a siege of a castle, we might need all of that knowledge, especially if we were doing so using a trebuchet or a cannon.
Or, we could simply ask students at Summerville High School.
Students in the STEM Academy at Summerville High did their first cross-curricular project Monday and Tuesday designing a castle wall that would withstand attack of a catapult or cannon.
They will then attempt to impress the “queen” with their design so that she might want to purchase it.
The “queen” in this case, are the school’s business partners to whom the designs were presented Tuesday afternoon.
First the students were divided into teams. Often, team members didn’t even know each other, coming from different classes.
They are all part of the cohort taking common math, science, social studies, English and engineering. The project uses all of these skills.
The teams are multidisciplinary and their task is to research the history of castle walls, design the wall, market their design and sell it.
First each team member is assigned a role such as Project Manager, Design, Sales, Marketing, Quality Assurance.
They earn points for their project with 30 points allocated for presentation including a brochure, power point slides and oral presentation; 30 points for data collection including a data sheet and design on graph paper; 30 points for project artifacts including resumes and reflection sheets and 10 points for performance such as professional behavior.
Students research castle construction throughout history to get a design strategy.
Then, using math, science and engineering, they calculate a projectile’s motion, probabilities, force, velocity and angle and design their wall to withstand all that. They will then build the wall with small wooden cubes.
The projectiles come from either a catapult or a slingshot (created on a 3-D printer from a CAD design).
They create a marketing strategy and a sales pitch.
This project not only puts their academic skills to work, but it teaches teamwork especially with those you don’t know.
So, of what use is all this today, here, where there is a dearth of castles, catapults and cannons?
Tenth grader Rebekah Caceres suggests the theory could be applied to bomb shelters or perhaps shelters from tornados and on military bases. Lilly Sandoval, ninth grade, suggests it be applied to the construction of earthquake-proof buildings and Zachary Huff, tenth grade, says it would work against most any natural disaster.