Making a Paper Slide
This is part of a series on Makerspace activities that require few materials. Check out the last one, Making a Crane.
I run a Makerspace. We have a dedicated lab, but we cannot use it. Microwaves, cellphones, irons, and iPods sit in boxes labeled ‘Makerspace.’ To observe health and safety guidelines in age of coronavirus, we have had to get creative. And scrappy.
These days, I travel to the classroom where my students meet for contact tracing. This creates practical constraints. I cannot use all the materials and spaces I was used to, which is appropriately a very “makerspace” thing. The maker movement takes after a scrappy, rapid prototyping culture. The design firm IDEO says “Fail fast, fail cheap.”
In that spirit, here is an activity that requires 3 materials.
Show a few videos or images to prime students. Get the wheels turning.
Encourage students to hold their thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Answer questions at end. Batching answering questions, like meal prep or clothes prep, helps you get more done in one go.
Offer a few quick tips
I asked students to help me build an example. We cut a strip of paper from an A4 page and used it as a comparative unit to cut other strips the same size. Then we folded the sides slightly to create “sidewalls” to prevent the paper ball, or marble, from falling off the sides. That was quite boring. So, I asked how we could make it more interesting.
We generated ideas to fold, cut, bend, twist, glue, and curl the paper.
One child created a “seesaw” feature by gluing a flat plane on top of a half cylinder, so the half cylinder would roll to one side or another depending on where the weight, or load, sat on the plane. Amazing.
Allow students to work in teams. I find 3–4 works best. They can ask each other questions, share strategies, and solve problems together. I find it is good differentiation. “High and low” kids are suddenly not so. Rather, they offer different insights and perspectives that add value to the overall project.
I gave each group 9 sheets of paper, a glue stick, and scissors.
Let them build
Walk around, appreciate, take notes. Build in whatever language you are working on with your kids: spiral, speed, acceleration, wavy, straight, tube, drop, cylinder, incline, plane, machine, you name it.
You might award the longest, tallest, most creative, or most thoughtful engineer.
In the future, I am thinking of doing projects like:
- Making a tower
- Making a kite
- Making a sailboat
- Making a chair
Good luck, makers! ✌🏼