Monday, May 7, 2012

Trial and Error

The Ferris wheel needs seats. 

During the course of many days, we document the children's  conversation, work and decisions. Their work shifts from the design of the seat to the mechanics of the seat and its attachment to the wheel. 

The process of trial and error is powerful. 

The children's "mistakes" and the feedback that they receive from the group transforms their collective understanding of the stability of the seats in relationship to the turning Ferris wheel 

As the children work they list their beginning priorities.

Tom: You need to be able to look at the view.

Oliver: We went on a field trip and now we know about aerial views.

Sydney: It has to be the right size for my stuffed animal.

Isabel: I made my seat so the door opens and you don't have to jump over the side. The seat cushion is soft. I made it look like a bird.

Trial and Error

One by one each child brought their prototype to  the Ferris wheel. Sydney and Tom turned the wheel and as they did the children observed and critiqued the efficiency of each seat.

Poppy: The seats shouldn't go upside down like that.

Drew: If I had a seat belt my passenger would not fall out. 
The children were using wine corks as their passengers. If the cork fell out then they would deem the seat unsafe for their stuffed animals.

Tom: Actually Drew if your seat did not turn upside down you would not need a seat belt.

Kaiya: I think that seat needs sides. It looks like a seat but it is not safe because the cork comes out of the side. I will put a pink wire in mine so the passengers can hold on.

Emerson: Maybe if it goes faster the seats wouldn't turn upside down.

Emerson has a sense that the speed in which the wheel turns impacts the stability of the seat.

As the days of trial and error continued the children's theories became deeper and more constructive. They begin to have more substantial observations...considering the the  spin and the seat.

Tom: I think my chair needs oil. It is too unstable. Oil will make it move.

Sydney: This seat is not stable because it is not attached. It  hits the ground and then just drags.

Owen: Lukas and Drew's seats are wider and so it works better.

Oliver: I just think that my material is too light.

Isabel: The material does need to be heavier.

Dillion: Tom's seat is perfect. When the wheel moves the seat moves. It stays in the center of the dowel.

Owen: It balances like a sea saw.

The children acknowledge that the seats need to be balanced...equal amount on both sides of the dowel. They were familiar with the word "stable" and used it to describe seats that did not flip and cause passengers to be ejected. They are also acknowledging that the seat cannot be anchored to the dowel but rather needs to move.

Owen's imagery comparing his seat to a seasaw was powerful.  It was a shared experience from which they could construct meaning and derive understanding. 

Lukas: Instead of the seat tipping over and hurting the people if it is balanced the seat will swing but not tip.

Lukas understood that the seat must be able to move and cannot stay in place.

Tom: If your seat is not balanced it will tip over and the people will fall out.

They add another word to their shared vocabulary....pivot point.

Drew: The pivot point is where the seat connects to the Ferris wheel.

Nolan: It a point where you balance the seat. 

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