The Zoob Challenge Kit

Infinitoy generously donated a Zoob Challenge Kit to the Baden Academy Media Lab. It’s wonderful! I can confidently say it is now the go to item whenever kids have a few unassigned moments in the lab. Lunch time and lab time will find two or three kids working together on one of the Zoob challenges. I like it because of the emphasis on collaboration, problem solving, and ability to soar tangentially into some previously unknown STEM field. Some examples…

Miriam, grade 4, was attempting to use the Zoob to finish the Added Bounce Challenge, that is, to create a device that sits on the floor and makes the ball bounce off the rubber bands (with none of the rubber bands in contact with the floor). She started with “I don’t know how to build” and tried her first iteration. Then I heard, “The restrictions make it hard,” as she tore her first creation apart and rebuilt using what she learned. Her accomplishment was possible in the short time that was available. Further, it was celebrated by classmates, several of whom got involved to make the engineering cleaner and the bounce higher.

Another student worked on the “Lock Up” Challenge, building a structure holding a ball inside it without letting the ball touch the ground or the top of the structure. He quickly built the tower, following restrictions of no play pads and only two ZOOB pieces touching the ground, yet couldn’t seem to have the structure’s top not touch the ball. We brainstormed ways to break the problem down and rephrase it until he came up with the solution of a spire on top.

USA’s tallest buildingThis led us down a tangent. We looked up the recent announcement that One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan has officially been ruled to be taller than the Willis Tower, in Chicago. This was only possible because of the 408 foot mast atop the building. This drew two additional students in as they debated the ruling and methods of the committee that was judging building heights. The Zoobs became a prop to the discussion as they each tried to demonstrate their points.

The 25 Challenges in the Zoob Challenge Kit continue to provide a source of interesting STEM diversions as they challenge students to find divergent answers to basic engineering projects. Visit Infinitoy’s website for more information, store finders, and news of their Inventors’ Contest.

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