Sixth Graders Tackle Unique Design Challenge

If you were given a stack of newspapers and 24 inches of masking tape, how would you create a structure to support your own body weight? That was the challenge recently put before Burke's sixth graders in their science class.

Using reams of newsprint donated by members of the Burke's faculty and staff, groups of students in 6A and 6B were given slightly different parameters for this project, but the general task was the same: build a chair or seat that was up off of the ground (the second group was given the additional requirement of a 12-inch minimum clearance) that would not collapse when weight was added to it. Sixth graders had three minutes to plan and 25 minutes to build.

There were a variety of techniques used — we saw students attempting to make giant cushions and the newspaper equivalent of beanbag chairs — but those who had the idea to roll their newspapers into tubes and gather them together discovered that their instincts were good, especially after Dr. Rawlings themself tested out their creations! Click here to see a video of one of those moments. 

As always, though, the journey was the destination as the process of testing different ideas and brainstorming others took up most of the students' alloted 25 minutes. There was a lot of excitement in the science lab, including quotes such as:

"Even if this doesn't work, this is fun!"
"Oh, I just got the best idea."

Click here to see more photos from this design challenge.
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.

Katherine Delmar Burke School

An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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