Wednesday, April 2, 2014

One foot 14 inches project - or pallet chairs

     Awhile ago we took apart a bunch of pallets, anticipating the day we could build with them.  Students drew plans for their chairs, and measured actual chairs to determine their dimensions.  They had to be able to describe to me what steps they thought they would need to follow, and then several went back to the drawing board. We also built models from popicle sticks.  Then we called in the Watch Dogs (a volunteer Dad program in our school)
Mr. Seeger started the process with the kids, but we quickly realized that he needed back up.  Mr. Miliken joined him and 6 of the kids were off and building. 
Even I learned to use the saw (I count my fingers every time I step up to cut something) and LOVE to jump in and cut something. 

Students measured and cut.  I knew we  had some conceptual understanding issues when I asked one boy how wide the seat of his chair needed to be and he responded "1 foot and 14 inches."  I asked him to show me and I realized that if I gave him any random line to measure with a ruler he could tell me exactly how long that line would be, but in measuring a longer line on his measuring tape he saw the 1 foot line, and wanted two inches longer for his chair seat.  In his head this translated to 1 foot 14 inches instead of just 14 inches, or 1 foot 2 inches.  It was a great moment for me to realize that my students can use math in a workbook, but applying it REALLY IS a whole different ball game. 

We noticed pretty quickly that the chairs were designed fairly similarly and the Dads were great at asking kids questions and pointing out potential design flaws.  They really let the kids drive the project.  

The only things we did for them 100% was the cutting. Students measured, drilled and drove in screws with hands-off  (eyeballs on) supervision from us.  

We are quite far in  the process, but with my missing days last week for NAPDS conference, and this week for NSTA (come see my presentation on Saturday) we may not finish completely until next week. 

J. did finish his chair (but he didn't want a back on his). We also have to determine if we are sanding and painting these (maybe just attempt to sand). Last week the kids were quite excited to see that new pallets were behind the dumpster at our school so we checked with the custodian and delivered those to our building area.  Students will start pulling those apart at recess.  I will post kids and finished chairs next week