Even though the project has just started, I am already thinking about how I can improve parts of the project for the future. The first thing I would like to change is the amount of time I have! We just got a 3D Printer for our middle school, and of course, I wanted to give the students a mini project where they would have the opportunity to use the printer. However, this cut into my short 9 week time span that I have with my classes. So, on Thursday this past week, my students and I traveled down to Zollman Zoo for day one of the project.
The day before, I had briefly told them about the project, assigned teams, and had them select specific animals to design for. I promised my class I would provide them with more details as the project progressed, but that their main goal for this mini field trip was to simply observe the animals, take pictures and videos of their habitats, and start noticing some enrichment toys they already had in their exhibits. Because we only had one class hour for the trip, we ended up having about 15 minutes of usable time at the zoo, which, for this first trip - was plenty of time.
(Pictured: Some students observing two otters in their exhibits.)
The next day, Friday, I had one of the expert local animal caretakers from Oxbow come into to school, and graciously, present some important information to the students. All of the kids were very engaged and excited about what our guest speaker was saying and it was awesome to hear students ask question after question about their animal's interests, food preferences, senses, and more.
Now that the preliminary parts of the project are complete, the students have about one week to (a) work through the design process, (b) reach out to global experts, and finally, build their prototype before presenting to another animal caretaker from Oxbow on Friday.
On Monday, my plan is to slow the class down a little bit and explain some of the other details of the project. We will be keeping a class blog, where I am asking each group to write three short posts about their project.
More information to come, but from what I have seen so far, I think this class will create some awesome enrichment toys!