Building bridges through collaboration
To kick off the second week at Summer Numeracy Camp, we again wanted to challenge our Mathletes with a team-building exercise that required collaboration and communication: building bridges! We began with a simple question:
“What does good collaboration look, sound and feel like?”
This question generated a great discussion about the skills and attitudes necessary to work well in a team. Given this mutual understanding of what it means to collaborate, we let the students choose their own groups of 3 and each group received the following materials:
- 100 craft sticks (with 1 elastic)
- 5 pipe cleaners
- 10 paperclips
- 1 small bottle of glue
The goal of the task was for each team to:
- Design and build a bridge to span across a bowl of water.
- Test the strength of the bridge (using pebbles)
On the first day, we gave groups a chance to design and begin building the different pieces of their bridges. The teams started by assessing the materials they were given, coming up with a feasible design, and constructing the different components of their bridge. Some teams also recognized the importance of including triangles, while others tried out the strength of the square.
After leaving their creations to dry overnight, our Mathlete teams continued with their bridge construction the following day. They carried on measuring, testing, and adjusting their designs to figure out how they could be improved. All the teams found something they could adjust or modify to make their bridges sturdier and stronger. We again created some extra shapes for support and let them dry overnight.
On our final day of bridge construction, everything came together beautifully! The students used their resources and demonstrated creativity, perseverance and impressive problem-solving skills to successfully finish their free-standing bridges. During the consolidation, one member from each team explained their design and reasoning to the whole group, and we discussed the differences and similarities among our bridges. As our Mathletes had shown true grit and determination to complete this challenge, we decided to have a bridge celebration and prepared certificates for each participant that highlighted a ‘special mention’ for each group (e.g. positive attitude, perseverance, design and architecture, creative use of materials, problem-solving). They were very proud of their creations, and handing out these certificates was a lovely way to cap off another successful week at math camp!