Lay a challenge before a creative and imaginative group of students and you get nothing but sheer enthusiasm and excitement to tackle that challenge. My school’s kindergarten and primary students, like Iggy Peck, are always up for a building challenge. After reading the book and realizing just how devastating a broken bridge could be, groups of students banded together using linking discs to solve the problem and created some incredible bridges.
In groups of 3 or 4, students quickly got to work and realized that the task of creating a bridge that was long enough and sturdy enough, during a short period of time, would require all hands on deck. Although each group was given the same task, it was great to see that groups approached the build in different ways. It was really nice to see groups of students working together and listening to one another about what they might choose to build. Some considered building a straight line, while others tried to create something that looked like a ladder that someone could walk across. For some members, linking the discs was hard and so they took a longer time to help with the build, all while having their teammates there to help them along. From one corner of the classroom, I heard a kinder say, “I’m doing it!” while their classmate replied, “Good job”.
When it came time to test out their creations, some groups quickly realized that they needed all of their members to help carry their bridges over to the testing station. Along the way, many broke and members had to help each other piece their bridges back together again. At the testing area, some groups found that their bridges weren’t long enough and had to go back and add on. Other groups found that what they had built wasn’t sturdy enough, resulting in the bridges falling or sliding off of the chairs. They too went back to the drawing board and added discs for extra stability, and sometimes weight at the ends.
Part of what I love so much about my work in this role is that I have the opportunity to support students in failing forward. Many were not successful on their first try and it was refreshing to see that we’ve created a space where that’s ok and we can go back and try again. We’ve had a couple of periods each of building bridges and I don’t think they’re tired yet. I’m more excited about the bridges we are building with each other as we support one another in building our creativity.