On October 14, while students were testing, new faculty and staff members were building catapults. The goal was to launch a small object from their catapult into a receptacle that they designed, but the purpose was much bigger. The activity helped the new teachers better understand Design Cycle thinking. Just as they will ask their students to do, they worked together in small groups moving from problem to solution through a series of task-oriented steps we call the Cubs Create Design Cycle.
Each group of three began by sifting through random items such as tin foil, Christmas ornaments, pencils, paper clips, card stock, plastic cups, straws, a wheel, corks, and more. They next brainstormed how to use these items to create a catapult, flying object, and receptacle. After designing and building their catapult and receptacle, they focused on two criteria: sending their object as far as possible and catching their launched object in the receptacle. There were surprises along the way – a switch around of group members and gummies being substituted as each group’s flying object, for example. The groups collaborated, adjusted to the changes, and successfully completed their first design cycle at MCA.