Here’s a challenge: what kind of game can you create with a paper towel roll, a plastic spoon, tape, pipe cleaners, paper clips, yarn, rubber bands, white beans, a plastic cup, popsicle sticks, and a marble? Any ideas?
Last Thursday afternoon, Doreen Abubakar facilitated the afterschool program called Kids Quest to Invent. She's a volunteer facilitator of the CT Invention Convention, and she comes to the Troup School every other week to lead the program. She gives Troup students in grades 3 to 7 the supplies and one hour to tackle a challenge. At the first class of the spring, students were challenged to make a cup slide down a fishing line and drop pennies at one specific point. Students learn that a plastic cup can be used for much more than simply to hold water. And paper clips are not strictly used to hold paper -- you can straighten one out, and use it to poke a hole in the paper towel roll to create a noise-maker! Or, you can turn it into a spring that causes the toy to jump. What other ideas are there? Ooh, that’s sounds great, too: tie it to a string and try to hook it onto the straw.
This program encourages students to think creatively and problem-solve. It takes the fun of working with crafts and ties it to making a useful tool. This gives students the opportunity to take chances. They can try out ideas, see if they succeed, and if they fail, they can see how to adjust the process and test a new method. The mentality reminds me of the Thomas Edison quote, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This program shows students the value in taking chances, learning from mistakes, and trying new ideas.
This is one program at the Troup School that falls under the Boost! efforts for extended learning opportunities. Kids’ Quest to Invent gives students an opportunity to think critically, solve problems, and build confidence. I am excited to see the inventions that they will continue to build.