Magazine article Technology and Children


Magazine article Technology and Children


Article excerpt

Having children design, build, and test toothpick bridges is a tried-and-true activity. Its popularity increased in the 1980s, when technology educators sought problem-solving activities that related transportation and construction concepts. Today, with the increase in interest in design technology and children's engineering, the toothpick bridge remains a favorite.


Teachers know that the first few days of school are essential in setting the tone for the upcoming school year. This is the opportunity to hook the students' curiosity and interest in the next 180 days. Yet, how many times have students come in, sat down, and been asked to complete that old "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" writing assignment? What if you took that idea and added a twist that would take this often-repeated assignment and make it into an experience that would be long remembered? Rather than writing out an essay relating what students did over their vacation, students design a six-panel brochure describing their vacation destination. Once this has been accomplished, students will actually go on to construct their favorite summer vacation hotel room.

Many schools in California, as well as other states, are undergoing what is called "modernization." Some younger students may almost think it's magic-the doors of a building are closed off for a year only to open to a totally transformed classroom. But how many of our upper-elementary-age students truly understand what is really taking place on their school campus? The hotel activity will introduce students to construction technologies by bridging the gap between the "real world" around them and firsthand experiences that will teach them about structures and tie in with language arts.

Construction Technology Activity: The Vacation Hotel

Design Problem

Design and create a model hotel room representing your unique summer vacation spot. Your project will be a part of a class project that joins the rooms into a "My Favorite Summer Vacation Hotel" exhibit.

The students will:

* Choose a favorite summer vacation spot and make a model of their hotel room.

* Use the design process sheets to design a hotel room for their theme.

* Select items to go into this room that reflect the surroundings of the vacation spot.

* Support their choice of items placed in the room based on where they traveled.

* Create a room that will fit the size dimensions agreed upon by the class in order to make it possible for all the hotel rooms to fit together.

* Create a brochure telling about the hotel and their room model.

Materials Needed

* Wood strips (can be scrap wood from a construction site)

* Back Saw

* Mitre box

* Gussets (cardboard triangles)

* Ruler, scissors, and stapler

* Construction paper

* Paint and paint brushes

* Carpet samples and miscellaneous materials for interior of hotel (fabric, cardboard, wallpaper, etc.)

* Items from home to use in the construction process


Students should be shown how to use the mitre box and backsaw properly.

Teacher Hint: Consider the following questions before letting students start.

* How many hotel rooms is your class planning to make?

* What is the exact size of the tabletop where this display will be placed?

* Can the rooms be different sizes?

Design Activity

1. As a whole class activity, brainstorm different places students visited on their vacations. …

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