“I do NOT want to be an engineer. It’s too hard.” This was what I heard from a few of my students last week during our OERB oil derrick build. Only one team successfully built and held weight. One group was able to successfully build one (with a new design and after many setbacks), but had put too much stress on it during pretests, and it wouldn’t hold anything for the actual test. The other two groups decided that taking their derricks apart to rebuild with only a few minutes left before testing was the way to go. It wasn’t.
My response to this comment was, “If all engineers said this we’d have no engineers. Remember, they fail more than they succeed. But when they do succeed, it’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment. They didn’t give up and they have something to show for it.” I then wrote the word FAIL on the board vertically and beside each letter wrote First Attempt In Learning. My students went nuts over this. They thought it was the coolest thing they had ever seen. “You turned it into an acrostic poem, Mrs. Smith!” Aww kids…they do listen and pay attention!
This week, we are rebuilding and retesting. The students from the successful group are now ‘expert consultants’ for the other groups and are offering advice and assistance. The groups couldn’t wait to get started on their second chance. They seem more determined to get that feeling of accomplishment I talked with them about last week. They are going about things a little bit more methodically than last week. I have a feeling success will abound in class (oh, I really hope it does!). While it’s difficult to do something new or that didn’t work the first time, it’s proving to be a good lesson in perseverance and teamwork.
What activities do you do to help students work on perseverance? Please share in the comments section.