Fueled by resilience and creativity

In a hands-on exploration of design, creativity, and problem solving, Grade 8 science students took on their latest STEM challenge.  

Boys designed a car chassis capable of carrying an electric motor and battery pack. They are preparing to put their chassis through a series of tests – acceleration, momentum, and collisions – to assess its overall performance.  

“It’s cool that we have to think about all the factors that go into an actual car,” said George ’28. 

Students were challenged to consider several factors, like maximum dimensions, traction, and center of gravity, during the design and building process. 

“We are basing our car off of a Formula 1 car, which is very aerodynamic,” said Willard ’28 as he described his team's strategy. “They don’t weigh that much compared to a normal street car, so we’re hoping ours is faster than everyone else's.” 
Students began with a design on paper which they then translated into a 3D Styrofoam model. They were able to make modifications before rendering their models in Tinkercad, a software that allows them to 3D print their final designs. 

“This process gave them a chance to explore their ideas more fully, build some resiliency, and understand that an initial idea is just that,” said Middle School Science Teacher Dr. Fenton Blake. “It is not necessarily a good idea to hang onto a first idea, but rather be open and more flexible, allowing a better idea to develop.” 

Dr. Blake said having a hands-on project with minimal constraints gives students the freedom to be creative with their designs. 

“This personalizes the project and creates buy-in from the boys,” added Dr. Blake. “Equally, as the teacher, it is stimulating to have the boys asking questions relating to their unique situation and to be able to give advice and ask prompting questions that still give them control of the project. It is a whole lot of fun.” 

“I’m just excited about getting to design your own model. It’s kind of like a free project,” Willard added. “You can design where the battery goes, what engine you want to use, the shape, how it looks, the color...it really tests your creativity.”

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