St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday this year. A perfect day for a Leprechaun-themed Engineering Challenge. I proposed this question to my 5th graders today: “Can you design and create a trap that can catch and hold a leprechaun?” They were excited and up to the challenge.
I began the lesson by reading the book, “How to Catch a Leprechaun” by Adam Wallace. In the book, a leprechaun tells children that he can’t be caught and hasn’t been for 200 years! Could they be the brilliant child that will design the perfect trap?
The students broke into groups of 2 to 4 students. They began brainstorming. They drew and labeled their plans. After teacher approval, they got to work. I provided many recyclable materials for student use. They used everything from milk jugs, to toilet paper rolls, to pom-poms. As usual, they surprised me with their creativity. Many incorporated the use of a pulley system. Some groups even made small steps for leprechauns to climb! There were trap doors, fake gold coins, sticky traps. They really used their imaginations!
After cleaning up the disaster of a classroom (but that’s part of the fun), we reflected on our new learning. Here are some of the questions that the students answered within their groups:
- Were you successful in this challenge? Why or why not?
- What was the most difficult part about this challenge? What did you do to get through it?
- What went well? What was your best idea?
- Did your leprechaun trap work? Did it work the way you wanted it to?
- What did you learn about teamwork and engineering during this maker challenge?
- Did you like it? Anything you would do differently
After some reflection, we shared our traps! The kids were so proud of their work and it was fun to see all of their creative problem solving.
We didn’t get to this, but here’s some follow up questions and ways to extend this lesson:
- What is the science behind this maker challenge?
- What data could you record from this challenge?
Happy Making! And, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!