One of my goals for my students is to cultivate design skills so they are equipped to approach a problem, a dilemma, a creative endeavor and be solution-providers. Experimental design, at the very core, requires an understanding of what it is to conduct an experiment. This means learning about variables and the process by which one variable is changed with each test to eventually reach a conclusion. This experimental design process is ubiquitous throughout our world today, in one shape or another. Providing our students with these skill sets helps to equip them for their future successes. Because experimental design is a learned skill set, I partnered with an expert in the field because learning from experts brings the design process into a real world context, providing opportunity for connection beyond school. A science expert (Liberty High School college chemistry teacher) came to teach the 3rd grade enrichment students all about experimental design.
Once we had created our rockets, we walked from CAKC to Barney Allis Plaza and with the wonderful surprise audience of CAKC Kindergartners (they were having recess), we launched our rockets and analyzed various data such as height, angle, and distance. As they launched, there were all kinds of conversations about size of fins, angle of launch, even the wind and how it possibly impacted distance and speed. Once we were back in the classroom after our launch, we reflected on the process and brainstormed ways we could be designers and use this design process in school, at home, and in the future.