ITC P-Tech Students Participate in Global Collaboration Day

     Published on 9/21/15   Tagged under:    ITC   

Freshmen and sophomores in the ITC P-Tech program, along with more than 3,000 students from across the United States and around the world, took part in a “Marshmallow Challenge” as part of Global Collaboration Day.
The Marshmallow Challenge presents students with a unique design challenge: build the tallest free-standing structure you can out of just 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow.
An added twist? Participants only have 18 minutes to complete their structure, and they do so while participating in a live videoconference with other participants from around the world. This Global Collaboration Day activity is intended to help students learn about working together through idea sharing and thinking to accomplish a common goal.
To help students prepare for the challenge, engineering teacher Mark Rogers led the students in a lesson on design principles.
For sophomore Lilly La, who was part of the winning team with a 68.8 centimeter structure, the preparation aspect was key. “I knew this was coming up, so I did a lot of research,” she said. “I talked to my dad and grandpa, who are engineers. I also know that the triangle is the strongest structure, and I knew that simple would be the best strategy in a competition like this. Planning a lot in advance helped!”
One of Lilly’s teammates, freshman Ronnie Merriweather, said the project’s goal—collaboration—contributed to their win as well. “Our team planned it out and we all worked together. Everyone had an equal part,” he said, adding, “But, next time, I would make a wider base so it could support a taller structure!”
While students were critical of their performance, teachers praised their interest in the activity.
“The whole thing is about teaching the students to work together and collaborate,” P-Tech Coordinator Nick Lisi explained. “They are working with kids they haven’t worked with before, and look at the result… it’s just incredible!”
Science teacher Julie Sherman noted the progress students have made—even just over the past several weeks. “They’re learning and getting more intricate now, versus over the summer when the freshmen tried this for the first time,” she observed. “Their structures are much stronger now, too!”
Sophomore Imari Gary explained that a successful project is largely due to the execution of design principles. “My team didn’t really have a strategy,” he explained. “I’ve done this challenge a lot, and I learned to repeat the same plan, which means building a strong base and then building up from there.”
For freshman Salma Muse, despite some struggles building a structure, the project was worthwhile. “We tried building a pyramid base because a strong base is key,” she said. “But our building was too tall—it collapsed! I liked this, though. It was challenging!”
Event organizers noted that with over 3,000 students participating in the Marshmallow Challenge, it may have set a world record! Great work to all of the P-Tech students who participated!

To view photos of the students completing the Marshmallow Challenge, please click here to view our Flickr album >>>