Submitted by Rene Carroll

Gause Elementary fourth grade students, in the classrooms of Colleen Davis and Robyn Riat, were asked to use scientific knowledge and creativity to draw scribbles.  The challenge was to create a simple robot to do the scribbling.

Gause Elementary OMSI scribble bots Micah Erickson, Marley Weaver, Mary Templeton and Sam Kellar
Gause Elementary scribble bots: Micah Erickson, Marley Weaver, Mary Templeton and Sam Kellar. Photo courtesy: Rene Carroll

“Scribble Bots were so much fun to make,” said Davis.  “Students were provided components including batteries, a small motor, plastic cups, pipe cleaners, tape, felt tip pens and popsicle sticks and given the engineering challenge to create a device that can scribble across the paper covered table on its own.”

“We began by reminding students of the scientific process and encouraged them to identify the problem, brainstorm solutions, test the idea and then improve upon it,” said Brad Alston, OMSI outreach educator.  Although each student worked with their own components, they were encouraged to share their ideas, success and failures with each other.

“We actually want students to learn through this process that they can attempt something difficult and fail,” Alston explained.  “Engineers persevere and keep trying and that is how you come up with really great solutions to problems.”

WSD Superintendent Mary Templeton visited the classroom to experience the challenge first hand.   “I enjoyed the opportunity to work with an excellent team of 4th grade students as they used creativity, engineering principles, collaboration, and critical thinking to create a mini-robot that scribbled,” she said. “What a fun time we had trying to engineer a functioning robot. Although I was not able to get mine to scribble, I was proud of the young lady in our group who quickly utilized her materials and engineered a successful design. Wow, these kids are smart!”

“We are grateful to the Gause Booster organization who provides funding support to bring this type of program and opportunities to students at our school,” said Tami Culp, Gause principal, who was also on hand to work with students on the project.  Culp had met with OMSI representatives at the beginning of the year to learn about their educational programs and then worked with staff to identify those courses that fit the district’s science curriculum and receive Booster funding.

According to Gause Booster, Rona Ager, their organization’s main fund raiser is the sport-a-thon held each fall. Money raised supports interesting assemblies, behavior reward programs and curriculum enrichment activities like the Scribble Bots.

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