Design challenges are powerful ways to engage students in making (that’s why I co-wrote a book about them). Sometimes, I craft the design challenges myself. But other times, I go to my students and ask them to create their own design challenges. This one was one of those, and I think it was brilliant:
The Creature Challenge: Make a Creature that Does Something
This challenge on the surface sounds a lot like littleBits‘ motto of “make something that does something”. But adding in that magic word of “creature” changes how students approach this challenge. Suddenly, their creations take on personalities. They have backstories. And they aren’t just passive creatures – these creatures have to do something. Check out the video below to hear some of the stories behind my students’ creations:
The Challenge Prompt
While I sometimes get more specific for design challenge prompts, my students decided to keep this one simple with “make a creature that does something”. Students could work individually or in groups. They could use any materials in the makerspace (and a few brought supplies from home as well). We only worked on this one for about two-three weeks, which seemed like a good time frame because they stayed engaged the whole time.
This was one of my favorite projects from this challenge. This particular student has a HUGE passion for Godzilla, so when he heard the word “creature”, he was super-excited. He decided to create a Godzilla costume that he could wear and found several boxes in our Maker Room that were large enough to work. He worked hard to paint them, hot glued teeth and eyes to it, and found some blue streamers. With mom’s permission, he brought an air mattress inflator from home and used it to create the fire-blowing/roaring effect. He later created a miniature version for our maker fair.
This was another favorite. I wish I had recorded a video of my student explaining her creation, but somehow I didn’t get one. Here’s the gist of her pitch:
“Do you have a problem with unwanted tape? You need Boxy. Boxy is a creature that will eat your unwanted tape for you, keeping your desk clean. Simply place Boxy on top of the tape [slides Boxy off the desk, getting rid of tape] and voila! No more unwanted tape problem. Comes in original, bunny and hedgehog versions”
The beauty of a challenge like this is that it can work with pretty much any supplies that you have. The list below includes some of the things that my students used, but you can make this work with other supplies as well:
- Cubelets Six (used in the Scaredy Horse project)
- littleBits STEAM student set (great for adding on to other materials to make the creature do something)
- Hot glue guns (this is similar to what we have and includes a stand)
- Hot glue sticks
- Tons of recycled materials and cardboard
- Craft sticks
- Sharpie Markers
- Acrylic Paint and paintbrushes
- Construction paper
- Googly eyes (we didn’t have these but I wish we did)
- Scotch tape
- Clear packing tape
- Acrylic Yarn (good for craft projects like this)
Have you done a creature challenge with your students before? What were some of their creations?
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