The principal of the International School of Monterey, Catherine Glick, was looking for programs outside of her community which had a competitive element. She proposed The Tech Challenge to teacher Elizabeth Mayer, who incorporated it into her curriculum before turning the program, and her math and science classes, over to Karen Hansen.
The school’s experience with The Tech Challenge began in 2012 when several 6th grade teams competed in Shake, Rattle and Rescue, the objective of which was to rescue survivors from a damaged bridge. Though there were initial concerns about travel, level of difficulty, and overwhelming the kids with The Tech Challenge program, everyone had a great time and it was agreed that lessons in teamwork and perseverance were important enough to continue with the program.
Last year, teams were formed by groups of friends, which made for a preponderance of all-boy and all-girl teams. This year, Karen created the teams, ensuring that boys and girls would work together. Parental involvement is high. Not only do the parents act as advisors for the teams, they also build a test rig for the school.
Elizabeth Mayer now teaches a course in Design Tech, and gives kids time in class to work on the engineering design journal. Last year, each student created their own journal. This year, the journal is collaborative. Most building is done outside of school, though Karen monitors the teams’ progress in class. The test rig is located on the school grounds, and this year International School of Monterey invited teams from local schools to come test their devices.
Team # 288 - The Nerd Herd from International School of Monterey. 3rd Place in Best Device Performance
Every 6th grader at the International School of Monterey now participates in the three-month program leading up to The Tech Challenge. In addition to learning about the engineering design process, documentation and processing data, the kids learn valuable lessons about teamwork, and the value of failure. The Tech Challenge is now an integrated component of the International School of Monterey’s Design Tech curriculum, and Karen is already planning her approach to next year’s challenge, whatever it may be.