Monday, May 28, 2012

Neccessity is the Mother of Invention

The Kindergarten  tested their seats. 
They had discovered that they could prop the Ferris wheel between two wooden chairs. They held the axle as they spun the wheel.

But then one day .....the wheel fell off the chair and one of the struts broke. 

The children felt the time had come to design a permanent stand for the Ferris wheel so that they did not encounter this problem again.

The children asked Pippin to come to the classroom and listen to their theories and look at their sketches.

Oliver: We need a stand on each side.

ReeseL We need a big hole and then we can attach the stand to the wheel.

Owen: Rees's idea wouldn't move around. If you put the axle in a letter U it would work.

Dillon: I agree with Owen. We need to be able to take  the wheel out.

Tom: Yeah, so we can fix it if it breaks. 

Oliver:  A pyramid on each side would work

Lucas: That looks like a Chinese A.

Drew: My concern is that it could collapse.

Lorenzo: Yeah like this (He drops into a split).

Lorenzo's design includes roots to stabilize the triangles.


The children know that the Ferris wheel needs to be raised from the ground so that the seats can go circle without touching the ground. How will the people board the wheel? Dillon sketches a staircase.

This is a side view of the Ferris wheel stand. The stand is collapsing under the weight of the wheel.


  1. Mary, their drawings are incredible! You can see the care they are taking in designing and creating the stand and the stake they have in making sure it works exactly as they want it to!

    1. Thanks, Allison. It is always magical when the children really listen to each other and co-construct solutions to an exisiting project.

    2. Mary,
      It is so interesting how able this group is in describing how they would design the stand. Even before drawing their ideas they are using very accurate verbiage to create images in the minds eye of what the design will look like --"put the axle in the letter U", " a Chinese A", "a pyramid on each side" etc. And even kinetic imagery when Lorenzo demonstrates by dropping into a split.

      Has this ability developed hand in hand with this particular project--are they co-constructing this ability to discuss engineering? I wonder how their drawing figures into this ability to converse in this visual way. So fascinating.

  2. YES! I think because the children with Pippin's assistance are able to represent their designs so accurately we are free to discuss the engineering and theorize. The parts of the Ferris wheel actually work together so we can proceed with the next important piece of the design. We spend our time thinking about the mechanics and less about finding the materials and tools (Pippin greets us with those).

    Thanks so much for your comment. I was just thinking about this as I documented this weekend.

  3. I am wondering if the last picture (the stand collapsing from the weight) is based on their own experience when they have had to hold the wheel up. Maybe they felt like they were going to crumble : )

  4. Yes, the stand was doing a split from the pressure of holding up the wheel. Ask Lorenzo to demonstrate.