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Students Accept Backpack Challenge

Students in Ms. Jennifer Miller's Honors Geometry class at Hampton Middle School recently competed in a "backpack challenge" as an enrichment exercise for the class. The students were presented with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) challenge of designing their own backpack. The mathematical objective of the activity was to apply their understanding of surface area and volume to composite 3-D figures to a real-life scenario. More information about the backpack challenge at www.backpackdesignchallenge.weebly.com

The students had to present their creations before a "Shark Tank" style panel of judges over two days in class. Judges included Middle School Asst. Principal Mrs. Marlynn Lux and Ms. Gwen Cohen, the HMS enrichment facilitator. 

Among the designs created included the "Bolt Backpack." It was designed to reduce stress on the neck/back/shoulders while carrying. It incorporated features such as a waterproof carrying case for cell phones that would also charge them, and built-in back massagers. The students determined they would need to sell the backpack for $95 and would make $22 profit off each unit after paying for the cost of materials and production. They were asking the Shark Tank panel for $200,000 in exchange for 10 percent ownership of the company.

Another group created a solar-powered backpack with four compartments designed to carry various items. This backpack was intended for use with backpacking/camping trips only. It was made out of water-proof materials and included foam shoulder straps for comfort and a top-mounted fan system for cooling the hiker. The packs would be sold for $120-$125 and cost $61.45 to manufacture. They were asking for $75,000 in exchange for 15 percent ownership in the company. 

"What is remarkable about this activity is the way the students took initiative to think big despite the fact that this was not a graded activity," said Ms. Miller. "They not only followed the explicit instructions given, but they were creative and innovative, rising higher than my expectations demonstrating genuine ownership and investment in the learning and design process." 

Posted by berg in Middle School, STEM on Wednesday May, 25, 2016 at 10:56AM

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