My 8th grade STEM students just completed their first "major" project: The Masking Tape Shoe Project. Students studied gait and arch types for a few days before completing a wet foot test to determine their own arch type. Gait analysis became an important part of the research component of this project. Students now understand how an injury to their left ankle could eventually affect their right hip!
Most of the time for this project was spent building the shoes. Each student had to bring in a shoe. They used that chosen shoe as a model. Students spent about a week sculpting their shoe prototypes. There was one major rule. Only masking tape could be used! That's it! Only masking tape could be used to create every single part of their shoe prototype.
Students were very frustrated after the first two days of sculpting. They couldn't quite see the big picture yet and they were doubting their capabilities. But half way through the week, once the sides of their shoes starting forming, they were in awe of themselves.
This project was a great first project for my students. They could easily identify what step of the engineering design process they were involved in during each day of class as the project progressed. They could also see how brainstorming and having a plan helped their creations piece together more smoothly. Students made improvements as they went along. I loved seeing them work so hard...and it was cheap! Each student went through one roll of masking tape. My students provided their own tape and then they donated a lot of extra rolls.