This December, Terry Wiley's fifth grade class at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul, MN took their first college course in design. As part of a new initiative at the college to keep creativity vibrant in children, the Student Services team, led by Lori Swenson and Nikki Mumma, at the College of Design "adopted" the entire class.
Last Wednesday's gathering was the first of many planned for the future to help the students learn first-hand about the College of Design and how thinking like designers can help them with problem-solving. The first exercise of the morning was orchestrated by Tex Ostvig, coordinator of Kids on Campus. Ostvig jumped in with the kids and talked about the importance of names.
"Knowing each others' names builds community and our names tell others who we are, and education helps us define who we will be," Ostvig told the fifth grade students.
He led a discussion about why college is important and then facilitated a word-puzzle exercise that got the kids up and moving to work as a group.
Next, Professor John Comazzi from the School of Architecture divided the class into small groups to build the highest possible tower that could stand on its own - without talking. W.L. Hall Workshop and DigiFabLab Manager Kevin Groenke provided the materials. While the students didn't talk, laughter and giggles were aplenty.
After the winning tower was recognized, small groups took on the task of building the longest bridge between two people that would not collapse. This time the room was full of chatter as teams worked to meet the challenge.
Afterwards, Comazzi and the students talked about the difference between the two challenges, what they learned about team work and what can be learned from your mistakes as you go along.
The fifth graders are set to visit the College of Design in May to become U of M students for a day. For more information about other College of Design initiatives, please visit us online.