Middle School students have the opportunity to choose from a number of Exploration electives each trimester. One of this trimester’s Explorations is “Paper Engineering.”
Students are exploring the properties of paper while designing and constructing small-scale, stand-alone structures. Paper is the only material allowed – no adhesives or additional supports. For the final design project, an overhang and an interior hollow space will be required.
One example of the class in action:
“For this assignment, our goal was to create a standing structure using just one piece of 8.5 x 11 copy paper,” said iLab Manager Patrick Neary. “I led them through a few simple steps for folding and cutting the paper so that we had four equal sections with which to build the outer layer and four smaller sections for the inner layer.”
To test the strength, students then carefully placed different objects on top of the structures.
“Some were unsuccessful, which is very much a part of the process of building and testing,” said Mr. Neary. “And, some were very successful! When the first student carefully succeeded in putting the can of pens on his paper structure, the buy-in by the other students to also succeed went up 1000%.”