Troubleshooting and The Marshmallow Challenge

We have had a large amount of technical problems in both of my technology classes. We have had student’s accounts mysteriously deleted, user names being deactivated and passwords somehow being altered. Since this is how the school year started, I decided that we needed to have a unit dedicated solely to troubleshooting. I first taught students how to “think outside of the box” by describing the process of problem solving. Many students are honestly used to not having to think for themselves because whenever they do not get something they just raise their hand for the teacher. Teachers are of course an important resource and support for students, however I believe that this relationship should enable students rather than creating a crutch for them to lean on. With that said, after teaching students how to problem solve, I gave them a list of common computer problems and asked them to start troubleshooting. The students started to think for themselves as a gut reaction rather than asking me to solve the problem for them.

In the middle of this unit, I had the students do “The Marshmallow Challenge” that I learned from Chad Donohue’s class at SPU. I wanted the students to recognize that they use problem-solving skills in their everyday lives, in and outside of the classroom. In this challenge students were given 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 marshmallow and 18 minutes. In these 18 minutes, students got in groups to create the highest tower with the marshmallow at the top. Students learned to create a plan, test the plan and the re-evaluate their approach if it failed. They also learned that there is more than one way to find a solution to a problem. The students are now able to practice their growing troubleshooting skills in our technology class and I am very pleased with their progress.

Take a look at my Junior High Technology class taking on The Marshmallow Challenge:

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