In this video segment from Cyberchase, the CyberSquad must design an invention that can do two things: navigate a perilous swamp and get to the top of a tall cliff. With the help of Wicked's wand, Wanda, they brainstorm ideas and make preliminary sketches. After analyzing the different options, they make a decision about the type of invention that meets all their needs.
When faced with a mathematical problem or design challenge, it is helpful to draw or plan an idea on paper before beginning construction. If you are working on a team, the brainstorming process involves communicating your ideas to other team members. Many times it is easier to represent ideas on paper by making drawings. During the design phase, it is easy to analyze the benefits and disadvantages of a certain design before moving forward to start the building process.
Here are the steps of the design process:
- Identify the Challenge
- Research and Brainstorm
- Design a Solution
- Test Ideas
- Evaluate Ideas
- Build It
This Cyberchase segment focuses on multiple steps in the design process. First the CyberSquad recognizes the challenge they must overcome, which involves creating a means of transportation that would allow them to cross a swamp and then reach the top of a cliff. Next, they brainstorm possible designs for their invention. With the help of Wanda, they are able to draw sketches of a number of ideas, which helps them to identify the best design. For example, Rollerblades© were designed in 1980 by Scott Olson and Brennan Olson, brothers and hockey players from Minnesota. At the time, roller skates had two sets of parallel wheels. After coming across a pair of antique roller skates which featured the "in-line" wheel design, the brothers were inspired to apply the design to a hockey skate. They decided to use polyurethane rollers and a rubber heel brake on their new skate.
The first mass-produced in-line skates had some design flaws, so the designers looked for ways to improve the overall design and function of the skates. In the first design, ball-bearings collected dirt and moisture, and the skates were hard to put on. When the Olsons sold their company, Rollerblade, Inc., the new owners were able to improve the design. Stronger breaks were used, the wheels were protected, and the skates were easier to put on. While other companies have imitated the design, Rollerblade, Inc. has been an industry leader and has been awarded over 200 pending patents for its various designs.
Site referenced: http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa050997.htm
To learn about kid designers, check out Kid Designer: A Comfortable Cardboard Chair QuickTime Video.
JACKIE: Thanks for the ride, Mother G.
MATT: There’s the Wreaker! Bet Hacker’s in that little house with Digit. Let’s go!
WANDA: No! You can’t walk in this goop - it’s too deep! And even if you do get to the island the cliff’s too steep to climb! Oh... What are you going to do?
INEZ: Well, maybe we can invent something to help us.
JACKIE: I don’t know. I mean, we already messed up one invention today.
INEZ: Don’t worry, we won’t make the same mistake we did before.
MATT: Right! This time, we’ll make a list of what we need our invention to do first.
JACKIE: Then think of ways to make our ideas real. Let’s make the list!
INEZ: Okay. What do we need our invention to do?
MATT: Number one: we need something to take us across the swamp.
JACKIE: Number two: we need something to get us up that cliff.
INEZ: Something to get us across the swamp... and up the cliff. Let’s design the climbing thing first.
JACKIE: The cliff looks really high. We could try a ladder.
MATT: Or a ramp.
INEZ: Or maybe a staircase.
WANDA: They all sound like good ideas. How do we decide which one to do?
INEZ: Well, we should try them out. But that means we’d have to build them - and we don’t have time to do that!
WANDA: I could draw them!
MATT: Cool! Then we can see if they work.
WANDA: Well, what do you think?
JACKIE: I see a problem with the design. The ground’s very rocky. No way, a ladder might tip.
WANDA: Well, how about a ramp?
INEZ: Hmmm...I don’t think that design will work, either. We have to go up - not down, and a ramp could be slippery.
MATT: And it would have to be really long - and heavy to hold us.
JACKIE: Try the stairs idea.
MATT: Nope, too clunky. We can’t carry around a whole stairway.
INEZ: I can’t believe not one of these ideas is right.
WANDA: So maybe these ideas don’t do everything we need. But they’re just designs. Why not change one so it’s easier to carry?
INEZ: You mean like shrink it or crunch it or fold it or something?
JACKIE: Yeah! A ladder can fold.
INEZ: Uh, still sounds too unsteady to me.
MATT: What if we split the ramp apart and carry it to the island in pieces?
JACKIE: Maybe...but I don’t have a clue how to put back together.
INEZ: But the idea of carrying pieces is a good one. Especially if they fit together - like a set of wooden dolls, or--
MATT: Look! These barrels were inside each other!
JACKIE: Yeah! I bet if we turn them upside down, we can build a tower!
INEZ: No way. We’ll never be able to climb it. There’s no room for our feet.
MATT: Maybe there’s something else around here we can use.
WANDA: Oh! How about these boxes?
JACKIE: I bet they can fit inside each other like the barrels did! They do!
INEZ: So we can build a tower that we can climb.
MATT: Way to go, Wanda!
INEZ: Now all we need now is a boat.
MATT: A boat???
INEZ: How else are we going to get to the island?
JACKIE: We have a boat, right here! We can use the biggest box as our boat!
MATT: Touchdown, Jax! And watch this...If we pack the other boxes under this one, we have a bench to sit on!
JACKIE: And we can use these for paddles.
INEZ: A box - a boat - a staircase. The invention that meets all our needs!
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