Preparative Actions 



Problem Solving

approximate time

20–25 minutes


As one group, ask the students to describe the parts, the screws, how different planks fit together, and how they look in relation to one another. Talk about how one long plank can be created by using two or three smaller ones, how they could potentially all connect, and what does that look like? Name the parts so you have a common vocabulary for collaborating. Once the whole group completes this exploration, ask students to look at the following in 20–25 minute investigations.

These are precursor lesson suggestions that could work well at drop-off time in the mornings or during short free time pockets throughout the day.

Exploring connections

Exploring connections

Collaboratively testing brackets 

Collaboratively testing brackets 

Exploring modularity; 3 short planks = 1 long plank

Exploring modularity; 3 short planks = 1 long plank

Some serious rope exploration!!

Some serious rope exploration!!

Building a Foundation:

Answering these questions and problem solving these challenges in advance with your students will prevent many obstacles that could potentially keep children from moving forward with their explorations. By initially addressing these logistical concepts as a group, children will have minimal frustration and can focus on the tasks at hand.

Can you create a joint?

Can you make something stand up?

Can you make something balance?

Can you make something swing?

Can you make something go up and down, roll or turn from side to side?

If you wanted to use a circular piece as a "wheel" which of the holes would you use?

How would you secure an axle using 2 bolts?

Follow-up Questions

The answers to these follow up questions can be recorded on chart paper and then referred to when children are working on future explorations. If the challenges are done in small groups, provide an "answer box" that can be reviewed with the entire group at a later time. 

What are you (were you) curious about?

Tell us about a problem you encountered and what was the group's solution?

What worked well and what didn't?