Brainstorming Session with Middle Schoolers After school enrichment

Nov 21, 2018

BY MATT WHALEN

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Recently my colleagues and I were able to spend some time talking to students at the East Shore Middle School in Milford, CT. The students are taking part in the “First Lego League Challenge”. This challenge requires them to work together as a team to create a number of lego robots that meet very specific goals and requirements. However, it also requires them to tackle a more in-depth, abstract problem. This year’s project is focused on human spaceflight in deep space. The students were specifically tasked with: “Think about all the challenges humans must overcome to travel in our solar system for long periods of time. To name just a few: extreme temperatures; lack of air, water and food; waste disposal or recycling; loneliness and isolation; and the need for exercise in order to stay healthy. After you select a problem, find out about the solutions that we are already using to try to fix it. Why is this problem hard to solve? Can you think of a new solution? Can you imagine a way to improve a current solution?”

The group chose specifically to focus on the problem of morale and mental health while on a long duration space mission. They quickly realized that if they came up with an appropriate team building challenge that it would be a great way to improve morale and check in with each other during the flight. They discussed this with their advisor who agreed that it would be great to be able to bring in some experts to help advise the students. She reached out to True North and asked if we would come in for an afternoon to talk to the students about team building ideas and what might work within their framework. Together we spent several hours brainstorming new ideas and helping explain to the students what our process is when designing an activity! By the end of the session, the students were well on their way to having a clearer set of goals and requirements for the activity.

This meeting really helped reinforce for us that team building can take place at any age and any location. These students were motivated and well prepared with new, innovative team building ideas that they discussed with us during the meeting. It was a great opportunity for us to get out and help instill the ideas of team building in a younger group. We are looking forward to following up with the group in the future and seeing where their project takes them during the statewide lego league competition.