Students worked in groups of 10 to meet the ultimate challenge — floating their 6-foot-1-inch Assistant Principal Eric Mitchell across the school’s swimming pool.
Carrie Edmison, a third-grade teacher at Woodward, said a documentary started it all.
“One of our third-grade teachers, Roberta Taylor, watched a documentary entitled ‘Children Full of Life’ where the teacher formed a capstone project with his students making a raft,” she said. “It was a team-building project that inspired us to try it as a design-thinking project.”
Building the raft tested the students’ creativity, since they were instructed to gather materials from odds and ends around their homes, recycling bins or inexpensive purchases.
Third-grader Hunter Exline, a member of the Dolphin team, was concerned about whether his teams’ float, constructed of foam noodles, foam heads, black tarps and “tons of tape,” would be successful.
No team would be able to test their raft beforehand.
Nonetheless, Hunter said he enjoyed the process.
“We’re learning how to work as a group and how to work with more people than a partner,” he said. “The most fun was doing all the taping and stuff.”
Hunter said there were other, more obvious obstacles besides building the rafts.
“We’re trying to think about the sizing of the rafts,” he said. “We have to get them out of the door of our classroom or onto a car or a bus.”
Through those five Friday afternoons, Edmison said she saw the benefits of the project — collaboration and cooperation.
“The process has had so much value for our students,” she said. “That’s come up over and over again. They’ve really discovered huge strengths in each other and tackled this head on.”