Monday, July 6, 2015

Apollo Challenges

Remember these words, "Houston, we have a problem?"  Read NASA's mission page for details and the National Air and Space Museum's information. How serious was this? This movie clip shows "Failure is not an option." Then, this:

So they were able to do this:

With limited supplies and so much collaboration, the astronauts returned to earth safely.

Courage and persistence in the face of time and a life-threatening event also depended on critical and creative thinking for success.  The kind of thinking that isn't in a standardized test or list of curriculum objectives. It's thinking on the spot and just in time.

Although this example is one of dire seriousness, the thinking challenges behind it can be also be fun for students.

I call these activities "Apollo Challenges," because they require critical and creative thinking to create something from limited resources in a give amount of time. The more students attempt these, the better their minds come out of the box we call school, and the more ingenious are their solutions.

So one of our Apollo challenges was:

In three minutes build a bridge with:
1 sheet paper
1 index card
2 paper clips
7 ” string
Ask for tape ( up to 5 – 2″ pieces)
Above is one example.

Here is another:

And another:

In three minutes with one piece of 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper, create a "Statue of Liberty." You may ask for one 2" strip of tape.

And another:

With one index card and two brads, create an animal that moves.

Yet another:
With one index card and two brads, create a moving toy.

The debriefing helps process the process!

What were you thinking at first? 
How did you get started?
What worked?
What didn't?
How did you get over that part -- the frustration?
What would you have done differently?

That should get your mind moving -- what Apollo Challenges can you create to build your students' critical and creative thinking?
Who knows... maybe one of them will be an Apollo problem-solver and mission saver!