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Roller Coaster: Habits of Learning

Gain and demonstrate important habits that make a lifelong learner while building a fun rolling ball contraption.

In this exploration, we’ll show how to scaffold situations for your students to develop and demonstrate important lifelong learning habits with a Strawbees Roller Coaster!

Step 1: Problem presentation

The suggested problem is how to build a track for a ping pong ball to go from a point A to B in the slowest way possible. You can choose challenges such as “longer distance possible” or “and bring ball back to A” depending on your group and time constraints.

We suggest the points A and B to be close together but in different heights and the ball should take more than 10 seconds to complete the course.

Each of your students should have access to enough material to complete the task but constraining resources can also be an option to guide them towards one type of solution.

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Step 2: Expected learning outcomes

Persistence

Breaking down the track in smaller parts, working towards building and testing one after the other is essential in order to the ping ball to go from point A to B in 10 seconds or more. The skill to be developed here is to keep yourself motivated on the main goal even while struggling with the smaller goals.

Emerging: Recognize the value of setting goals and working to accomplish them.

Proficient: Set goals strategically thinking on how to accomplish a bigger goal and is able to keep motivation even facing multiple failures.

Questioning

Sometimes the hardest part of solving a problem is asking the right question. Learning how to navigate problems through questions is a fundamental skill for a learner and it’s a habit to be developed. It’s important for students to demonstrate they can derive important knowledge and learn by following their curiosity.

Emerging: Asks questions.

Proficient: Integrates curiosity and genuine interest to drive questions that help build the track. Asks questions that promote and uncover new learning, solutions and questions.

Self-Awareness

Failing is an inevitable challenge we face as we grow. Being able to assess stress levels and react to it wisely can be decisive for a healthy development. Students should be able to demonstrate they are able to react in a positive manner to stressors.

Emerging: Identifying a situation where they reacted differently facing a challenge or stressor.

Proficient: Is able to reflect on personal strengths and challenges. Asked for help when needed and is able to talk about stressors and how to deal with them.

Collaboration

It’s important that everybody participates in building and planning. Sometimes you will be building by yourself or in groups and sometimes you will split tasks with people.

Learning from how other peers would solve your problems, or how they think about an issue, is sometimes the best and only way to move forward.

Emerging: Recognizes the need for individuals to work effectively and appropriately in groups.

Proficient: Works interdependently and manages relationships and roles in pairs or groups.

Growth Mindset

Everytime the ball falls off the track is an opportunity to learn a new way to prevent that from happening. Changing your perspective from failing to growing is an important step towards success.

Emerging: Recognizes that new learning can be challenging and can identify mistakes.

Proficient: Demonstrates that new learning can be challenging and can accept feedback appropriately. Identifies mistakes and new learning experiences as potential growth opportunities.

Precision

Making a marble run out of Strawbees is not a lucky game, even if sometimes it looks like. Students are expected to be able to repeatedly succeed and keep a consistent time to complete the track.

Emerging: Recognizes the importance of a track that is planned, edited, and completed with care.

Proficient: Creates a track that is planned, edited, and completed with minimal errors.

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Step 3: Instructions and assessment

We provide a full step by step instructions on how to build a modular roller coaster platform with a few variations and track examples for inspiration. We also have other Activities that might provide other insights on building with Strawbees.

You can have the instructions available, give a lecture on how to build it, build together with the whole class or all the previous combined. Experiment with what type of instructions and assessment works the best with your group.