By Maggie Hoppel, fifth grade, Promise Road Elementary
Note: The NoblesvilleWORKS initiative is a campaign that will highlight a monthly “soft skill.” In partnership with Current in Noblesville, students who are part of the NoblesvilleWORKS initiative will have their monthly essays published. For more, visit stayheregrowhere.com/Noblesville-Works/ and youarecurrent.com.
It’s an important skill that everyone needs to have. It is just a quick idea, but it can stop wars, save the environment or make life on Earth easier and more enjoyable. It helped slaves get to freedom in the north in the 1800s, gave us electricity by Thomas Edison in the early 1900s and gives students at Promise Road Elementary a chance to make a difference. What is it? Problem solving. Problem solving is the ability to identify a problem and engineer a solution to that problem.
One example of problem solving is when the fifth graders at Promise Road engineered doorstops for their teachers to use. Before they began, they sketched their ideas, identified their constraints and settled on a final plan. After that, they carried out their plan, tested their design and made alterations, if necessary. When all the designs were finished, they tested each one and decided which one was best.
Some doorstops worked better than the manufactured ones did, while others proved to be less effective but nonetheless appreciated. Now, if you walk down the fifth-grade hallway, you will be reminded of the small problem these students solved to benefit their classrooms.
However, fifth graders aren’t the only ones busy engineering. One fourth-grade class read the novel “Rump” by Liesl Shurtliff and noticed many different problems the characters were facing. They decided to engineer a solution to those problems in groups depending on their interests. For example, one group wanted to build a bully trap because the main character was being bullied. They came up with many different ideas, and built prototypes of their solutions. A prototype is a miniature version of an object. Prototypes are often easier to build than the real thing and may not be fully operational. They came up with pixie repellent, bully traps, and even a secret safe to hide gold in. If “Rump” was reality, the characters would certainly thank them! Another example of problem solving at Promise Road Elementary is when the six first-grade classes engineered an animal habitat. They separated into partners to learn about different animals and their living quarters in Indiana. Then, they began to design and plan a habitat for their animal to live in. After that, they began to build prototypes of their design with materials like cardboard, craft sticks or aluminum foil. These homemade habitats, my friend, are nothing to bare your teeth at!
As you can see, the students at Promise Road Elementary have the power to make a difference, big or small. So do you, your family, anyone. All you need is your imagination, a belief and a problem ready for you to solve. You could make the world around you a better, safer place, or revolutionize the field of transportation, or even find a faster way to fix that gutter in your backyard. You can change this world, so live up to your full potential and solve your greatest problems!