Tiny Tower Project Reflection

It’s been three days since we ended the two week Tiny Tower Project session. I’ve had some time to sit and think about the project. What would I do differently next time? What was great about the project that hooked the kids?

First, the kids were hooked. They loved it! At the end of Thursday I asked the kids what they thought of the project (next time I need to have a reflection piece written by them). They said they enjoyed it. It was a chance to build an object and see their results. Of course, their favorite parts were the Tiny Tower game on the iPad and the building with craft sticks and glue.

With the building side, I would make rules stating that there must be some sort of change on the tower each day. That would help prevent the students from quickly building their tower, then saying their finished. We had one group just sit the last 3 days of building because they were “finished”. They met the height requirement and didn’t want to build anymore. We said that one of the 30 minute building periods in a day was a no iPad time, hoping they would build more. Instead, they just sat there and talked. A couple of times they needed to be reminded to quiet down.

But then again, isn’t that how things work? If they are happy with their tower and just want to sit there, what’s wrong with it? I guess nothing really, except the couple of times they started to be loud. They did what they needed to do, and also were not bothering other groups. . . . so I guess making them have a change each day would be making the tower more mine and not theirs.

A big change that I think would be good was the class discussion/researching times. We had about two 40 minute periods each day. One was looking at the history of skyscrapers, the other was looking at budgets. What I discovered though is that we were having good discussions and had to stop them to move on with the schedule. A change I would like is maybe having one week just looking at the history and the next looking at the budgeting. That way discussions could continue and not be cut off.

I understand that in school we have bells so that each student can get to all of their classes. However, how many times are we cut off because it’s time for the bell? There are so many times that a great discussion if going, then the bell rings. When you try to pick up the discussion the next day (or two days later on block scheduling), it can’t be done. However, that’s another blog post.

I guess they big thing that I was excited about was that I got the kids hooked!

Kansas University in Lawrence, KS has an annual Engineering Expo where students can compete in different events. One of the events is building a skyscraper from craft sticks and glue. The regulations are a little different than the ones we had in the project, but kids want to go.

I asked them how many would be interested in taking a day away from school and building a skyscraper after school. Most of them said they wanted to. These students are students who don’t want to be at school, but I have them hooked and they want to succeed in school so they can miss a day to go to the competition. I really hope they still want to go when back in school this fall.

I feel the project was a success. Students learned and they were excited each day to come.

The following video is from last year’s KU Engineering Expo and the tower three of my students had built.


About Anthony Purcell

I am Anthony Purcell and I am currently teaching math in Oklahoma.
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2 Responses to Tiny Tower Project Reflection

  1. Sarah says:

    I loved reading about your summer school project! I stumbled on this by accident looking for information about the Tiny Towers update (I’m a bit addicted). I’m a part time secondary school music teacher (age 11-16 – High School?) over in England but I also home educate my girls, so I love reading inspiring blogs and accounts. I used to teach full time primary school (ages 7 -11), all subjects but specialising in music and maths. Our National Curriculum is very narrow here, in my opinion, so it’s really good to get ideas from elsewhere. For the home education I don’t have to follow the National Curriculum; I have free range. In school, I’m pretty much tied to the set work.

    I think your school term starts a little earlier than ours. We’re only in the first week of our summer holiday (vacation?) so I’m going to keep an eye on your blog for inspiration. My eldest starts college in September, so her home ed journey is at an end, but my youngest has a few years to go and something like your project would be a great start to the year. We have very few real skyscrapers here, however. We’d have to take a day trip to London to get even remotely near.

    I’ll be interested to read back through your blog.

  2. Pingback: Summer School 2015 Reflection | Random Teacher Thoughts

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