Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Save Dave!" Group Activity

This year, I want to focus on developing the 4 C's in my students: Critical Thinking (Problem-Solving), Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity.  Today's group activity correlated with all 4 C's and the students had a lot of fun! 
Originally called "Save Fred," this activity, which I renamed "Save Dave" just because I like the rhyming, came from Mrs. White's 5th grade blog:  She told me I could borrow the idea.  ;) 
Basically, you divide the students into groups (I did pairs), give them 4 paperclips, a cup [turned over on the table], a gummy Lifesaver under the cup, and a gummy worm on top of the cup, and then tell them the following story about Dave, the gummy worm:
"Poor Dave!  He was sailing along on a boat (the cup) when a strong wind blew it upside-down!  Dave ended up on top of the capsized boat.  Unfortunately for Dave, his life preserver (Lifesaver gummy) is still trapped under the boat.  Your job is to place the life preserver firmly around Dave's body, but you must obey three rules--you may not touch anything with your fingers/hands (you may only use the paperclips); you may not injure Dave in any way (i.e. poke a paperclip through his body!); and Dave may not fall into the sea (onto the table) more than three times.  If he does, Dave drowns."

Before I shared the story, we discussed the fact that we all solve problems every day.  Some problems are big; some are small.  We talked about ways we solve problems and gave examples of problems we've encountered before.  I created a flipchart for this activity and had music playing when I shared Dave's story--wind was howling, etc. and the kids were so engaged!
I distributed a data sheet to each person and they had to take notes as they tried to save Dave.  They also completed a flowchart to show the steps they took in saving him.  CLICK HERE to access the flowchart/data sheet I made for this activity.  (For whatever reason, the formatting is a little off from my original document and this copy isn't showing my flowchart.  Boo.  Sorry about that; you can still copy/paste the words.)
I asked the students to keep tally marks of how many times Dave fell into the sea.  Remember, falling three times meant that he drowned.  Oh, well--I had them keep trying even if he fell 100 times; it didn't matter!
I gave the students 15 minutes to work and it was interesting to see the contraptions they came up with by bending their paperclips.
One student quickly noticed, "The hole in the Lifesaver is smaller than Dave!?"  I just looked at the little boy and said, "Well, that's a problem!  How are you going to solve it?  Discuss it with your partner."
They all discovered that the Lifesaver must be stretched with the paperclips.
In the end, all but two groups were able to Save Dave.  They ended up stretching the Lifesaver gummy too far and it split!
After we discussed the problem-solving methods used and cleaned up, I gave each child a gummy worm and gummy Lifesaver to enjoy.

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