Second-Grader is 100,000th Bobsled Builder
April 06, 2011
On February 8, 2011, second grader Tessa Mastrocola, age 8, from the Buker School in Hamilton-Wenham, Massachusetts, became the 100,000th builder of a tiny bobsled in the Museum of Science's Design Challenges program.
"It's amazing to build with your own hands," says Tessa. "You think a lot." The Museum developed Design Challenges to introduce students and visitors to the engineering design cycle. By participating in a hands-on activity to design, build, and test a prototype solution to a given problem, visitors experience engineering and innovation processes firsthand.
More than 209,000 visitors have participated in these challenges since 2005, and "the bobsled challenge is the most requested activity," says program manager Lydia Beall. With simple materials, people can create all kinds of different designs. Other challenges involve building a shelter for a Museum animal, a small model boat, or a floating satellite. Design Challenges are one of the many informal education activities of the National Center for Technological Literacy®. Research shows that these challenges, facilitated by Museum educators, successfully guide people through the design cycle.
Exploring concepts like friction, gravity, and air resistance and their impact on acceleration, Tessa and 11 other children from her school used recycled materials to design, build, and test their bobsleds on an 8-foot long bobsled track. It took Tessa about five minutes to build her sled, which she designed to go as fast as possible. Although her time wasn't the fastest, she still had fun, she says.
The Museum awarded her a special golden mini-bobsled and tickets to an original astronomy show, Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun which premiered recently in the Museum's reopened Charles Hayden Planetarium.
Recommended for students grades 4 - 10 and families, Design Challenges are offered 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. daily.