Park Avenue students combine creativity and STEAM in design challenge
Students in Nicole Christensen’s fourth grade STEAM class were recently named the first place winners of the Rozzy STEAM Challenge; while any win is exciting, the team’s victory has a special satisfaction because the young students competed in the sixth through eighth grade bracket.
“The challenge is separated into different challenges for different grade levels and I felt that for the rigor of our classroom, the sixth to eighth grade level was the most appropriate,” Christensen said. “There were over 500 entries from across the U.S. and Canada and in the sixth to eighth category, we came in first place.”
Students were tasked with rebuilding a famous structure or building out of recycled materials and classroom/art materials, and adding a new feature to it. After some research, Christensen’s class decided to add a zipline to their recreated version of the Burj Khalifa, a skyscraper in Dubai.
“We chose it because we thought it would be a nice experience to research and build it. And it’s the largest structure that was man-made,” said Audrey Moran, one of the students in Christensen’s class. “We added a zipline, so at night you can get on the zipline and see all the beautiful sights of Dubai.”
Students were separated into groups, with each group assigned a different task: some constructed the base, while others built the zipline and others designed the doors.
“It taught me that it takes a lot of work to build, but when you finish and get to experience it, it feels really good,” said Moran.
In addition to the building of the project, students learned about financial literacy, civics, the design process and other important career skills.
“Communication and working together are key skills. In every job there’s communication—students were able to communicate and discuss what ideas were best and try them,” said Christensen. “On the first try, it didn’t work and that’s how it is in life. I think ‘how can we make this better’ was the life lesson they were able to take away from the challenge.”
In addition to reconstructing the building, the students had to put together a PowerPoint explaining their process and design. Judges—which included Dan Lauer, toy inventor, Martin Padilla, architect, and Natalie McGuire, Designer & Digital Strategist—ultimately deemed the class the first-place winner in their category.
As the winning group, the class received five classroom sets of Bloxels, a platform that allows students to build their own video games. During Rozzy’s next challenge in February, they’ll also be able to enter five entries at no cost.
While the reward and first place title were exciting, Christensen said that the best part of the whole challenge was seeing her students work together.
“I know that they put a lot of hard work and dedication into the process,” she said. “I was excited they won, but the best part was hearing the discussions and how they worked together. That’s what I was most proud of.”
Students involved in the project were: Cristina Aguilar, Audrey Moran, Rigoberto Alvarado, Orlando Morris, Jasmine Benavidez, Jackelin Pineda, Alexa Benitez, Jonny Reyes, Cristian Chica, Natalie Richards, Nathaniel Destinobles, Carmen Sanchez, Jonathan Escobar, Thalia Sinclair, Matthew Flores, Nellynia Suprien, Samantha Jones, Osnel Turcios, Franklin Maldonado, Maria Vasquez, Juliana Melendez, Maryol Vasquez, Gabriela Melgar, Emely Velasquez, Saul Moncada and Antonette Wiley.