Failure Test Day

FAILRecently, I posted this image on the inside of my door so that students would see it as they walk into class each day. At the same time, the door to my room is open a lot. Rarely a day goes by without someone walking down the hall saying “Fail, First Attempt in Learning”. Is it helping to change the attitude towards taking risks? I’m not sure but any step forward is a good one. I want my students to see failure as a critical part of their learning cycle.

We are currently working on an egg-drop like project. Opening announcements of the project revolved around the recent buzz from Hyperloop Technologies that a section of the hyperloop is projected to be built in the next few years. Students are working to provide design recommendations in the event of a collision. As I’ve written before, a struggle has been for students to work through multiple cycles of a design/build. Introduce failure test day!

Their build time was short so while students were invested in their ideas they did not see their container as an image of perfection that could not be damaged. This week’s failure test day was designed to investigate where failures took place and how we could both learn and improve designs from watching the designs fail. The conversation became IMG_0868centered on these observations.

Students used their computers or phones to film the “collision zone” and then slowed down the clip. The quality of the footage is not that great (quite blurry in some cases) but students could easily determine how their container fell and what happened at impact. A reflection followed that included before/after photographs of key design sections and self-evaluations on aspects such as reducing momentum, aerodynamic shape and protecting the passengers.

We begin next week with a critique session and redesign. A bigger drop is coming up and I hope to see radically different designs!


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