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Engineering on a Budget at McKenna

Inspired by the Elf on a Shelf, fifth graders in Maggie Rago’s class at McKenna Elementary School took part in a holiday-themed STEAM activity on Dec. 17 in which they had to rescue a penguin a top of bookshelf. The project combined elements of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics in a fun challenge.

The stuffed penguin sat about seven feet high, way beyond the reach of the students, so they had to use the provided materials to build a contraption to rescue it. But there was a catch. Each group had $10 in fake money to spend at the supply store, where they could buy items such as cardboard tubes, plastic cups, pipe cleaners, string and tape. Different objects cost different amounts so students had to budget their money to buy only the supplies they needed to accomplish the task.

Students shared ideas and collaborated with each other to come up with designs. They thought of many different ways to rescue the penguin from a long slide made of cut cardboard tubes to a pulley with a cup at the end. The challenge served as a showcase of their creativity and ingenuity.