Science, engineering, and technology came together for a whole lot of fun for children attending MakerFaire Atlanta in Decatur on Oct. 1-2. Behind all that fun were three classes of students from Discovery HS. The older students designed, created, and supervised the youngsters who took part in their EdObstacles Course. Hundreds of children—Pre-K to 6th grade—did their best on obstacles that challenged their brains and their bodies.
Throughout the course, the younger students collaborated on common goals and academic challenges while improving their social and physical stamina. The first obstacle was the blood-pumping Tire Run then a try at word riddles and a balance challenge with Egg Spelled. A life-sized Jenga game was tied to age-appropriate academic questions, and the Space Challenge called for a race against the clock to bring order (of the planets) to the universe. A math-related bean bag toss was followed by a Flex Race in potato sacks. Coding tasks moved Sphero Balls on a course, while participants hit their bellies for a military-style crawl. Recyclables like cardboard and plastic milk jugs took new form as kid-made cities at a Maker Station. And, math and physics kicked in as children determined optimal speed, angle, and distance for the “fan favorite” obstacle, an Angry Birds catapult launch.
The enthusiastic response from the kids—some of whom talked their parents into multiple visits to the EdObstacles site— made the hard work on the part of the high school students worth it. Parents saw the benefits as well, citing the engaging activities and the embedded learning. And despite the hard work, the older students enjoyed the experience. “It was a lot of fun honestly because, you know, we all got to learn stuff we didn’t know,” says Dag-Daniel.” The 9th grade student designer added that working with the younger kids was fun, too.
Valerie Lewis— the Discovery HS language teacher who launched the project-based learning opportunity with STEM Academy teachers Tommy Nguyen and Nicole Meade-Franklin— says developing the EdObstacles course at MakerFaire Atlanta was an opportunity for the high school students to use 21st skills like collaboration, problem-solving, and critical-thinking to develop their projects. She says, “We were uncertain about the results we would get or just how we would be received but I am proud to say WE ROCKED IT!”
The three participating classes included Innovation of Science and Technology, Digital Technology, and Foundations of Engineering and Technology. All three are part of the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Academy curriculum. Discovery’s STEM Academy is designed to prepare students for college and 21st century STEM careers through relevant and engaging learning experiences including project-based learning, inquiry, design process, and internships. (Discovery HS is one of seven Academy high schools in GCPS.)
EdObstacles will have another run on Dec. 1 when the Discovery team recreates the obstacles for students at Benefield ES, a feeder school in the Discovery Cluster. And the students already are at work designing an obstacle course for older students for an April debut.
Check out a video from the event, produced by Discovery students.