Tito Ghanem tests a crane game as Kailash Annamali provides some suggestions

The carnival came to town

With balloons, streamers, and galloping music, the MOMS makerspace was recently transformed into a STEAM-powered carnival. The makerspace hosted first- and fifth-graders from Sandshore Elementary School who came to play games that were developed from projects created in MOMS’ Innovation & Design classes.

Hydraulic arms and catapults were the foundations for all the games. One game challenged kids to catapult plastic chicken nuggets into an alien’s mouth, for example, and another asked them to operate a crane to pluck plastic goldfish out of a jar and return them to the “ocean.”

For the grade-schoolers, it was an opportunity to explore the science behind fun and games. For the middle school students, the carnival provided the ultimate evaluation for their projects: customer feedback. It also tested the ability of the young engineers to troubleshoot, a skill that comes from knowing the science behind the designs inside and out.

“I was so impressed by the way my students innovated quickly when something broke or stopped working,” said I&D teacher Dr. Rebecca Kreider who organized the carnival. “They enjoyed watching the kids play their games. The experience made them feel like they were giving back to the community by hosting the event.”

The carnival also gave Sandshore students, particularly the fifth-graders who will be attending MOMS next year, an opportunity to check out their future school and the technology in the makerspace. Students had an opportunity to “touch” gear trains, hydraulics, and 3D printed objects, and see the makerspace’s 3D printers, media room with green screen, and prototyping workshop. To culminate the event, the Sandshore kids worked with the middle-schoolers to create slingshots and straw rockets.

The carnival games began their lives in late September. Sixth-graders worked in pairs and used their knowledge of projectile motion to create catapults; eighth-graders, also working in pairs, made hydraulic arms. Both projects took the teams through the entire engineering process, from concept and design to fine-tuning and completion. 

To show students the real-world relevance of what they had learned and built, Dr. Kreider challenged them to turn their projects into games. 

By inviting the younger kids in, the I&D students were compelled to think of their projects as products for a specific demographic. They worked to gear the games for users in a different age bracket than themselves and created game rules simple enough for elementary students to understand. Components such as where to stand and how many attempts or how much time each participant is allotted to complete an activity are just some of the variables that the game designers considered.

Isabella Cappucci adjusts the hydraulic arm of her game

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