Try It Truck Revs Up Students' Design Thinking Skills

October 22, 2018

The Try It Truck revved up CAIS students' design thinking skillsThis month the Bay Area Discovery Museum came to CAIS for a hands-on program with the “Try It Truck,” the BADM’s new engineering lab-on-wheels.

Third, fourth, and fifth graders participated in 75-minute sessions of active, exploratory learning during the Try It Truck engineering program. Lower School students explored a variety of high-tech tools, such as a laser cutter and 3D printer; low-tech tools, such as hammers and screwdrivers; and lots of exciting materials, such as bark, clay, and crafts, as they solved engineering challenges and developed creative problem-solving skills.

Students had the opportunity to visit up to eight different stations where they could use both familiar and unfamiliar tools and materials to solve problems. Station challenges included: building a cardboard airplane; creating a roller coaster maze; designing a raft; taking apart electronics; building a fort; creating a catapult; working with wood; and learning about how laser cutters and 3D printers work.

At each station children had the opportunity to think about a problem, make a plan, build a prototype, and try out their solution. This engineering design process of “Think - Make - Try” was core to the Try it Truck program. The design thinking process is applied throughout science and coding classes at CAIS. In coding, students think about how to solve a problem (by writing code), then run, modify, and re-run their programs. In science, students think about how to solve a problem (by writing hypotheses), and then they conduct experiments to solve problems. Working in collaborative groups and using the design thinking process helps students develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Parent chaperone Von Seetharaman put it best when he summed up the experience, “Great afternoon of learning tools made fun for kids. This is what sets CAIS apart from other schools.”