New Materialities and Maker Paradigms in Schools
Field Notes (Racecars)
A 50-foot wooden track undulates across the cafeteria floor. Lunch tables have been pushed to the walls; chairs are scattered awkwardly here and there. Throughout the room, sixth-grade girls huddle around stations, building racecars. In teams of two they sort through bins of parts and tools, passing wheels and axles back and forth, and adding or removing weight from their chassis with washers and tape. One pair works with screwdrivers and pliers to remove the motor from a battery-powered toy. “There’s no rules,” one girl says, a bit defiantly. At one station, students streamline the aerodynamics of their cars by smoothing corners and creases, while conversely, at another station, other students are glue-gunning feathers and fuzzy pipe cleaners to theirs.
“Three, two, one—go!”
From across the cafeteria, at the highest point on the track, another run begins with a cheer and the flip of the starting lever. Two cars leap across the starting line and zip down the steepest part of the slope. One car immediately jumps out of the grooves in the track and falls to the floor, but the other one accelerates to the bottom of the first dip, rockets to the crest of the middle bump, catching air as it passes the high point, and zooms down the second incline, a sleek blur of fine engineering. As it crosses the finish line, a sixth grader taps her stopwatch, and from the starting line 50 feet away, her partner ← 1 | 2...
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