5th Graders Take Their First Design Course


On December 5th, Terry Wiley‘s fifth grade class at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul took their first college course in design. As part of a new initiative at the college to empower youth, the Student Services staff in partnership with the John Comazzi, Brad Hokanson, and Director of the U of M Kids on Campus program, Tex Ostvig, “adopted” the entire class.

This week’s gathering was the second year of the “adoption” program, whose goal is to help elementary school students learn first-hand about college and how thinking like designers can help them with problem-solving. The first exercise of the morning was orchestrated by Tex Ostvig, coordinator of Kids on Campus. Ostvig jumped in with the kids and talked about the importance of knowing who you are today, to guide you toward what you want to be later. In a good natured way, Tex cautioned adults to ask the right questions of kids to get more authentic answers.

Next, John Comazzi from the School Thumbnail image for picture1.jpgof Architecture divided the class into small groups to build the highest possible tower that could stand on its own – without talking. W.L. Hall Workshop and DigiFabLab Manager Kevin Groenke provided the materials. While the students didn’t talk, laughter and giggles were aplenty. After the winning tower was recognized, small groups took on the task of building the longest bridge between two chairs that would not collapse. This time the room was full of chatter as teams worked to meet the challenge. Afterwards, Comazzi and the students talked about the difference between the two challenges, what they learned about team work, and what can be learned from your mistakes as you go along.

The fifth graders are set to visit the College of Design in May to become U of M students for a day.

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