On November 4th, 2017, a report card distribution was scheduled at Paragon Public School, Tilganga. While the students and parents were definitely feeling jittery because of the usual “report card day blues”, there was also a lot of excitement and buzz at the school yesterday. Keeping up with the vibes and energy at the venue, a team from Karkhana was all set to make the day a memorable experience for everyone present.

Taking forward a new and interesting idea of organizing cluster based Design Challenge (DC), we prepared and planned out Design Challenges for the students of Grade 5 and 7, that were based on the clusters: “Structure and Stability”and “Fun With Electronics” respectively. Letting students figure out ways in which they could take learning outside their classrooms and think of finding out solutions adaptable to real-life scenarios was our main aim for doing this. Two Design Challenges: “Shake Table” and “Traffic Awareness” were run simultaneously, both of them starting at 10AM.

The Design Challenge: “Shake Table“, which was based on the cluster: “Structure and Stability” was a thought-provoker and a complete hands-on challenge. Creating straw and clay structures and testing how long they could withstand tremors and vibrations was the basic concept of the challenge. Facilitators: Sangden and Aakanchha were at their level best as they instructed the students and asked them interesting questions to help them come up with nice ideas for their structures. Within the time frame of one hour and thirty minutes, the students thought of the problems and complications that arise when structures aren’t made stable, came up with a design, thought of a format for their paper presentation and also worked in teams to come up with straw and clay structures. The fifth graders worked with full energy and put in their best creativity, team work and understandings to come up with structures. For me, personally, it was great to see how they all were passing opinions over what sort of structures would withstand strong vibrations and what would not. A motor based vibrator in the shape of a table was used to test the stability of the structures. Students tested their structures on it and also gave feedback on the projects displayed by their friends while discussing the reason for stability and instability of the structures.


Similarly, the “Traffic Awareness” Design Challenge was also packed with students from grade 7, all set to give their best effort on implementing the things they learnt in the cluster: “Fun With Electronics”. The facilitators: Preeti and Prayog first discussed the current traffic scenario of the valley and prompted the students to think about the raging road accidents and their causes. After the brief discussion over the agenda, the students were given issues like: drinking and driving, driving over the speed limit, jaywalking and so forth. After all the common materials like: LEDs, alligator clips, batteries, cardboard, colors among others were given to the students, they were also given to choose an extra wild card material (this included: aluminium foil, speaker and others) which they could incorporate in their design. The main theme of this challenge was to aware students of the burning issues of traffic rules violation and absence while letting them think of solutions to those issues. Along with designing a physical model of the solution, the students also had to come up with a story to go along with it. I saw the students working with great enthusiasm. My personal favorite of this Design Challenge was listening to their stories. Some of them had come up with much science fiction incorporated stories, that they said would be wonderful to have in the world, just so that road mishaps could be prevented.  Some students talked of building an underground system that would sense a traffic mishap and send notifications to the traffic police department so that they could find the culprit and punish accordingly on time, whereas some even shared stories in which the pedestrians could tap a switch and cross roads safely by notifying the vehicles beforehand.


Now let us see which teams won on which categories at these Design Challenges yesterday:

Winners in the Shake Table DC:

Categories Winning Team
The most stable structure Team 2
The most aesthetically pleasing design Team 6
The best team work Team 4
The cleanest table Team 8


Categories Winning Team
The most innovative idea Team 6
The most aesthetically pleasing design Team 4
The best story Team 8
The best team work Team 2
The cleanest table Team 4

If one were to just make and build and not understand how to implement these ideas in real life scenarios, it would not make much sense. Therefore, seeing these students use the concepts that they learnt within the four walls of their classrooms and implement them in these stimulating challenges was a thrilling experience. A big thank you to the school and all the present teachers and students for their overwhelming support and dedication.