Engineering and Other Challenges Explained to Elementary School

I spent the whole day at Cottonwood Elementary School in Fernley, Nevada, today meeting with the teachers in the blog class I’m teaching there, and then every grade level of students in the school (K-4) to explain their role in the High Hopes Project. It was great working with students again (it always is).

Remember, everyone can participate in this project from anywhere in the world. Your students can tackle the various science, engineering and math problems we’ve already posted, and then the creative writing and other language arts lessons we’ll make available as well.

Today’s goal was to bring the elementary school up to speed on the challenges they have to solve for all of us. One of the ways your students can participate is by submitting their “High Hopes” so we can send them up really high (30,500 meters or 100,000 feet) and then release them so they can spread around the globe and then settle to the ground, decompose, and become one with the Earth. Just before launch we will print those High Hopes out on paper and then cut them up into fortune cookie fortune size strips.

The students at Cottonwood Elementary are working on bio-engineering the paper we print the High Hopes on so that it decomposes as quickly as possible. They are performing an experiment where they brainstorm substances like say … lemon juice or cola or milk and so on … to treat the paper with after we print out the High Hopes, and then allow the paper to dry before we cut it up. They will then place the “treated paper” outside exposed to the elements for weeks to find out if any of the substances cause the paper to break down (decompose) faster.

Online, several sites claim printer paper decomposes in 6 weeks. We suspect that might be true if the paper is placed in a compost pile and tended to. The students will put that to the test and hopefully find a solution that will speed things up no matter where the paper High Hopes come to rest.

In addition the Cottonwood students will use their blogs and other social media to safely contact people around the world to induce them to add their own High Hopes to the collection we send aloft. They are also designing and engineering different ways to fold some of the High Hopes so they will glide or flutter or helicopter through the air. So they have lots to figure out.

My goals during my time at Cottonwood today was to not only explain the students’ role, but to motivate them to participate. Showing them photos, video clips and the various web sites associated with the project made that easy. Can’t wait to see what they come up with!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *