Teachers are discovering that planning Fascinating Friday weekly activities keeps students engaged.

Every Friday afternoon at Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School, fifth graders watch the clock to make sure they can get their weekly design challenge completed.  It’s part of the weekly activities planned as part of Fascination Friday.

“We plan Fascination Fridays as a more-relaxed, change-of-pace day at school for our students,” said fifth-grade social studies teacher Jenny Callif. “It’s something that’s a little different from the regular routine.”

The ideas extend the fifth grade curriculum.  Students have a problem to solve.  They then take 30 minutes to brainstorm and create a design, and build a prototype.

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For example a recent challenge involved designing and building a “bone bridge” using yarn, a strip of masking tape, 40 Popsicle sticks, 70 cotton swabs, and 15 pipe cleaners. The goal was to build a bridge that had gaps small enough that candy corn could not fall through, and build the longest bridge possible.

“Working together on a design challenge, students are learning about collaboration, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking,” Callif said.

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