Conundrum Day Tests Student Structural Engineers

Lower School students, parents, and teachers gatheredin the Bryan Innovation Lab for a day of problem solving.

On Saturday morning, April 12, more than 40 students in grades 2-5 and their parents gathered at the Bryan Innovation Lab for the first annual “Conundrum Day.” A conundrum is a problem that requires solving, and so Conundrum Day was a special design-and-build, problem-solving event during which students were given the problem of constructing a house that would survive hurricane force winds. The challenge was based on the storyThe Three Little Pigs, requiring students to build a house made of only recycled materials for the “fourth little pig.” The real test came from the wind tunnel, which simulated the winds of the Big Bad Wolf!

Before construction began, Clive Fox, a structural engineer and president of Fox and Associates (and spouse of our own Bev Fox), presented a lesson on structural engineering to give students the basics for constructing their houses. Students then began designing and constructing their houses, which were then tested in a special wind tunnel under the direction of Bryan Lab Resident Scientist Chris Lundberg. They were able to observe the effects of the wind on their structures through a view window in the tunnel, noting the wind speed that was being registered. All of the student creations survived at least 60 mph winds in the tunnel with most still standing even in near-hurricane force winds of 80 mph.

The event was organized by several Steward teachers: Mr. Lundberg, Jane Whitely, Nancy Loyd, Suzanne Casey, Jane Covington, Ron Coles, and Robin Ricketts. In addition, more than 15 parents volunteered to assist with the event, which resulted in many unique and creative models of houses designed to resist high “wolf” winds.

To see more photos from "Conundrum Day," click here

 

 

 

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