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Perseverance is built into these toys

Want to make project-based learning even more relevant to third-graders? In one classroom at East Oakview Elementary, teacher Annie Powers tasked her students to design toys that incorporated friction, gravity, and balanced and unbalanced forces as part of a science unit in forces and motion.

Students worked in groups to come up with a toy they would play with themselves, design and build using available classroom materials, hone their problem-solving skills to solve any flaws, then write about the process clearly enough that their peers could build their own.

A big takeaway: persevering through challenges. “It’s all about the learning,” Powers said. “We want them to see that they can flounder, try again and stay positive.”

From left, Kenzie Messink, Sophia Jewell, Sydney Taylor and Zane Rector discuss a design flaw with their toy and their proposed changes
Third-graders Taliyah Broyles, left, and Brooklyn Stinson get input on their toy car’s axle from teacher Annie Powers
From left, Owen Burda, Bobby Evenhouse and Caleb Bauman discuss what they learned while designing, building and testing their toy car. Attaching a longer string so it didn’t ‘do wheelies,’ wrote Caleb, worked ‘awesome’
From left, Cora Merdzinski and Peyton Chappell test their balloon-powered toy car
Jeffrey Jahr tests his group’s squeeze-bottle rocket as Brooklyn Stinson looks on
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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio


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