A graphic logo for D!Lab Summer Imaginations

This summer, encourage your students to think like engineers and inventors! D!Lab is offering weekly design thinking challenges that develop creativity and engage students in the process of innovation. The D!Lab Summer Imaginations program engages students’ minds and hands in a summer where academic and creative connection and engagement is crucial.

At the end of the summer, Amazon gift certificates will be awarded to winners for each challenge by grade-level categories K-1, 2-4, and 4-7 for most original designs. Students who submit for multiple challenges are eligible for multiple prizes. Students will be notified by their submission email.  Submissions for summer prizes should be sent to dlab@saes.org.

Creativity Challenge: Toilet Paper Tube Transformation

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

One aspect of creativity and design thinking is the ability to take an object and transform aspects of the object into something entirely different and unique.

Here is your challenge:

We all have them…. empty toilet paper tubes. If you don’t, let your family know, and in a week, there will be some! Collect one or more.

When your toilet paper is finished, take a toilet paper tube (or better yet, take several), and create a new structure, animal, holder or object. Whatever you want!

You will need scissor, toilet paper rolls, and tape.

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge:

  1. No limit on the number of toilet paper rolls you use.
  2. You may cut or reshape parts of the toilet paper roll.
  3. You may use tape to connect toilet paper rolls.
  4. You may cover the toilet paper roll with paper or cloth or add paper details, but no other materials may be used.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria:

  1. Transformation of the tube into an entirely new object.
  2. Use of additional paper or covering to enhance the new object.
  3. Age appropriate skill applied to making the object.

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Creativity Challenge #1 must be received on or before July 8, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.org. Include a photo of your submission, a brief description of your new object, the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email. 

Design Challenge: Leafy Raft

Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

The use of new materials for creative purposes is a great design challenge. Sometimes this takes many trials or iterations (versions) of your design.

Here is your challenge:

Collect some leaves and twigs.

You will need some string, glue, scissors, leaves and twigs.

Imagine that you are on a deserted island and need to create a raft out of found materials.

All you can find is leaves and twigs. Fashion a leafy raft that floats and is able to hold a toy!  Place your raft in a tray or bin of water to show that it floats. 

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge:

  1. Your leafy raft should be at least 4″ x 8″ in dimension
  2. No limits on the number of twigs or leaves you can use.
  3. You may use string or glue to connect the materials, but you are limited to leaves and twigs as the materials.
  4. Your leafy raft should float for at least one (1) minute.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria:

  1. A raft constructed of only leaves and twigs
  2. The raft floats for at least one (1) minute in a bin or a tray of water. No part of the raft can be touching the sides of the bin or tray.
  3. Age appropriate skill applied to making the object.

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Design Challenge #1 must be received on or before July 8, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.orgInclude a photo of your submission, a brief description of your new object, the maker’s name, age, and school.

Please have your parent send the email. 

Creativity Challenge: Secret Room Map

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash

Not all creativity challenges require you to make a model. For this creativity challenge, you will make a map on paper.

Here is your challenge:

You may have dreamed about discovering a secret room in your apartment or house. In this creativity exercise, you are designing a secret room that can be accessed only by you. Where will the room be? How will get access the room? How might you fool people and create dodges and dead ends so that your room is truly secret? Show us some of the things that you would include in your secret room. Make a map of your secret room. You DO NOT have to use your real home in order to create your secret room map.

You need paper and something to draw with. If you want a bigger piece of paper to draw on, think about cutting apart a shopping bag to create a bigger drawing surface.

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge:

  1. Use a piece of paper to draw the map of your secret room and some of the things that might be in your room.
  2. Create access to the outdoors from your secret room. Show that on your map.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria…

  1. Creation of a secret room drawing (map) with outdoor access.
  2. Level of detail and labeling of those details.  
  3. Age appropriate skill applied to planning the secret room.

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Creativity Challenge #2 must be received on or before July 15, 2020. Mail in your drawing of your secret room to D!Lab/Charles James 8804 Postoak Road, Potomac, MD. 20854. If you want your drawing returned, please include an addressed envelope. Your drawing must include the maker’s name, age, and school.

Design Challenge: Water Water Everywhere

Photo by Erlend Ekseth on Unsplash

Design thinking is a process that is used to solve a problem. In much of the world, scarcity of water is a constant challenge. Transporting water from one place where water is plentiful to another where water is scarce is a possible solution. Let’s make a model (prototype) of your idea.

Here is your challenge:

Use found paper and materials (hint, old mail, old magazine covers, containers from food…) and create a one-meter water transport system that is sturdy enough to create a channel in order to move one liter of water (look at your water or soda bottles) from beginning to end without losing water. 

You will need some found materials, duct tape, scissors.

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge:

  1. You can use any found materials to build your one-meter (about 36 inches) system.
  2. You cannot use preformed materials, like a pipe. Only repurposed materials.  
  3. At the end of the water system, have a collection point (cistern) to measure how successful your system was. Use a measuring cup from your kitchen to measure your success!
  4. You may connect the materials in any fashion you wish: tape, staples, etc.
  5. At one point, the channel must be at least 15 cm (about 6 inches) off of the ground.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria:

  1. Creation of a 36-inch water system that successfully moves more than half of the water you start with from end to end.  
  2. One part of the track is at least 15cm (6 inches) off of the ground.
  3. Age appropriate skill applied to making the water system.

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Design Challenge #2 must be received on or before July 15, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.orgInclude a short video or series of photos of your water system and include the maker’s name, age, and school.

Please have your parent send the email. 

Creativity Challenge: Shape Up

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Creativity can be applied to take common objects and make unique forms…like a pyramid.

Here is your challenge:

Pick a common object that you have many of. Paper cups, playing cards, cardboard boxes, marshmallows, rocks… anything you want!

Make a pyramid from your objects. See the photo above for what a pyramid looks like.

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge:

  1. Your pyramid can be any size you wish, small or large!
  2. Your pyramid should be symmetrical- all sides exactly the same as they rise toward a peak.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria…

  1. Creative use of materials
  2. A pyramid that is symmetrical  
  3. Age appropriate skill applied to making the object

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Creativity Challenge #3 must be received on or before July 22, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.org. Include a photo of the submission, the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email. 

Design Challenge: Hanging Out in the Hammock

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

Making a prototype (preliminary model) is important in the design thinking process. Prototyping identifies the things that work or don’t work about your design. In this challenge we are going to scale down our prototype from the size of a person to the size of a stuffed animal. Making a plan is an important first step in the prototyping process. Prototypes are by definition quick, rough and often do not look finished or especially beautiful. Our goal is that the prototype demonstrates what works or does not work.

Here is your challenge:

Hanging out in a hammock is fun in the summer. Your challenge is to see if you can construct a hammock for a small stuffed animal. Before you begin, think about how you will make your hammock and draw your plan. Be sure to label the materials. Since hammocks hang, think about where you will hang your hammock. What comfort and functional features do you want your hammock to have? 

Decide on the material to make your hammock. Your choice! You might also need string or yarn, scissors, sticks, paper or cloth, and a stuffed animal.

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge:

You may use any materials you wish to make a hanging hammock of any size that holds a small stuffed animal of your choice.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria:

  1. A fully hanging hammock that holds a stuffed animal
  2. A drawing that shows the plan for what the hammock looks like and labeled with the materials it is made of
  3. Special features added to the hammock for function or comfort
  4. Age appropriate skill applied to making the hammock

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Design Challenge #3 must be received on or before July 22, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.orgInclude a photo of your submission, a brief description of your hammock, the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email. 

Creativity Challenge: Pencil in your ideas

Photo by Mark Fletcher-Brown on Unsplash

Thinking creatively requires that we think of many new ideas in short periods of time. A pencil is a pencil until it is a pole or a chopstick. What is a pencil to you?

Here is your challenge:

Pick up a pencil and draw a 3×3 grid – like a tic-tac-toe board – on a piece of paper. In 5-10 minutes, rapidly draw your ideas. In the squares of the grid, think of as many new uses for a pencil as you can. Don’t worry about how good they look or about penciling in lots of ideas. We’ve started you off with one idea. Think of as many as you can!

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria…

  1. Range of ideas
  2. Age appropriate skill applied to drawings

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Creativity Challenge #4 must be received on or before July 29, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.org. Include a PDF or a good photo of the submission, the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email. 

Design Challenge: Hole in one! Putt putt golf

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

This week we create a design for fun!

Here is your challenge:

You are using various materials for creating a miniature or “putt putt” golf course. The game requires an object to move a small ball into a “hole” or target (perhaps a cup or container). Your course can be designed for indoors or outdoor fun. To start, draw your plan.

You will need a “golf club” (broom or stick), a small ball, cups, containers, and materials for obstacles.

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge:

  1. Your course should have at least three “holes” for the ball to enter.
  2. Each hole of your golf course should have some obstacles to make the game a bit challenging.
  3. A drawing or plan for your course. Label materials and describe the best way to score.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria:

  1. A designed course for playing miniature golf that contains at least three “holes.”
  2. Drawing of a plan for a course that contains at least three “holes.”
  3. Number of “holes” in the game that exceed the requirements.
  4. Creative use of materials
  5. Age appropriate skill applied to making the course

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Design Challenge #4 must be received on or before July 29, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.org. Include a photo of your submission, a PDF or good photo of the course plan, photos or video of the course prototype, the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email. 

WEEK FIVE

Creativity Challenge: Creative Noodling

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Here is your challenge:

History is full of inventions. Many inventions are revisions of prior inventions punctuated with innovation. We are going to use a simple and familiar substance to do some creative noodling. Ramen noodles are those square cakes of hardened noodles that, when placed in water, expand and soften into a slurping, favorable mess of noodles. Now use the following questions to guide your inventive noodling:

  • How can you change ramen noodles to make them different and better?
  • From what else can ramen noodles be made?
  • For what other sections of the grocery store could you create new types of ramen noodles?

Once you have some ideas, create a package that markets your new ramen noodles product. Briefly describe your package and noodles.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria…

  1. Idea generation for new noodles.
  2. Idea generation for new noodle packaging.
  3. Level of detail of description and packaging.
  4. Age appropriate skill applied to planning new noodle activity.

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Creativity Challenge #5 must be received on or before August 7, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.org. Include a PDF or a good photo of the submission, the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email. You can also mail in your packaging idea to D!Lab/Charles James 8804 Postoak Road, Potomac, MD, 20854. If you want your drawing returned, please enclose a self-addressed envelope. 

Design Challenge: Zip delivery

Photo by Constante Ken Lim on Unsplash

Design thinking is sometimes used to make tasks easier and more efficient. 

Here is your challenge:

Make a 1-2 meter (3-6 feet) zip line to carry a piece of candy or mini carrots from one place to another.

You need paper or foil to create a carrying container for the candy (or you can use some other small container), string or a long plant vine (careful, no poison ivy!), paper clip or wire twist tie from packaging for holding the container on the line, tape, and your imagination! When successful, enjoy eating your candy or carrots!

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge:

  1. Design a 1-2 meter (3-6 feet) zip line and carrying container that can deliver a piece of candy or a mini carrot from one place to another. You can do this indoors or outdoors!
  2. Your zip line container should be able to carry at least three pieces of candy or mini carrots. The zip line and container can be made of any materials you choose!
  3. Draw a plan before making your zip line.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria:

  1. A video of your working zip line. Ask someone to record the candy or mini carrot delivery.
  2. Amount of candy or carrots delivered
  3. Creative use of materials
  4. A drawing of the zip line plan

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Design Challenge #5 must be received on or before August 7, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.org. Send a video of your zip line working and a photo of your drawing to dlab@saes.org. Include the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email. 

Creativity Challenge: Eggsspressions

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Somethings are as interesting whole as they are in parts.

Here is your challenge:

For a week or so, gather the shells of 2-3 eggs. Have a parent rinse the egg shells well. You are going to create an egg shell sculpture. One part of the egg shell must be left in tact. The other pieces are now used to transform the egg into something entirely new.

You will need some glue and a piece of cardboard.

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge.

  1. Use no more than the shells of three (3) eggs.
  2. You can glue on to and around the original egg shell that you have left intact.
  3. You may use paint or water color on parts of your egg shell, although it is not required.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria…

  1. An egg shell sculpture from the shells of 2-3 eggs
  2. The name and a written description of your creation
  3. Age appropriate skill applied to creating the egg shell sculpture

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Creativity Challenge #6 must be received on or before August 14, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.org. Include a good photo of the submission, the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email. You can also mail in a photo of your sculpture to D!Lab/Charles James 8804 Postoak Road, Potomac, MD, 20854.

Design Challenge: Sky High Treehouse

Photo by Miryam León on Unsplash

This week, plan, or plan and build a model of, a sky-high treehouse!

Here is your challenge:

First, plan out your treehouse on paper. Grid paper works well, but plain paper is fine.

Using cardboard, make a prototype of your treehouse!

You will need a ruler, paper, cardboard, scissors and tape. If you need to cut out sections of the cardboard, an Exacto knife will work. Please have your parents help you.  

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge:

  1. Your treehouse can have one or multiple rooms. Your treehouse should have at least one window, one entrance, and a roof.
  2. You may add any special features you wish to your treehouse. Be imaginative!
  3. A drawing or plan for your treehouse. Use measurements to show the size of the real treehouse.
  4. If you want, create a model of your treehouse.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria:

  1. A treehouse design that shows measurements and labeled features
  2. Imaginative, extra, customized features for the treehouse.
  3. A small model that accompanies the drawing
  4. Age appropriate skill applied to designing and creating the treehouse.

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Design Challenge #6 must be received on or before August 14, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.org. Include a photo of your drawing and/or small model and a brief description with the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email.

Creativity Challenge: Roll of the Creativity Die

Photo by Riho Kroll on Unsplash

Creativity is often at its best when it is at its most spontaneous.

Here is your challenge:

Select five materials and some tape. Some suggestions for your materials: toothpicks, sticks, cardboard, flat rocks, yogurt containers, plastic bottles, paper towel tubes, shoe boxes, or balloons.

Then roll a die (single of a pair of dice). If you roll a 1, make a tower. If you roll a 2, make an animal. If you roll a 3, make a vehicle. If you roll a 4, make a game. If you roll a 5, make a piece of furniture. If you roll a six, make a toy.

Your materials should be chosen and gathered before you roll the die.

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge.

  1. After you roll your die, plan the object you will make. Draw your plan.
  2. Make your object out of only the five different materials that you selected in advance.

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria…

  1. Creation of an object based on the roll of a die
  2. Only five materials were used to create the object
  3. Age appropriate skill applied to making the object

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Creativity Challenge #7 must be received on or before August 21, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.org. Include a good photo of the submission, the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email. You can also mail in a photo of your submission to D!Lab/Charles James 8804 Postoak Road, Potomac, MD, 20854.

Design Challenge: Marble Run Reaction

Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

In this week’s design challenge, use marbles to start a fun three-phase chain reaction. In this challenge the chain reaction is caused by the energy of a rolling marble. For example, the marble may strike something that hits something else and causes a final reaction.

Here is your challenge:

You will need a variety of found materials and some marbles.

Create a ramp for marbles to roll down and design a chain reaction caused by the marbles.

Here are the constraints (limitations) for this challenge:

  1. The chain reaction can have different levels and materials
  2. The chain reaction should have at least three phases or reactions caused by the marbles
  3. You may add any special features or materials you wish to your marble run. Be imaginative!
  4. Make a sketch of your marble run and explain what you think will happen during the chain reaction

Evaluation for this challenge will be based upon the following criteria:

  1. A working three-phase chain reaction started by one or more marbles
  2. Imaginative extra customized features for the marble run and chain reaction
  3. The marble run is accompanied by a drawing describing what you think will happen
  4. Age appropriate skill applied to designing and creating the marble run

Note: In order to be considered for summer prizes, your submission for Design Challenge #7 must be received on or before August 21, 2020 and emailed to dlab@saes.org. Include a photo of your drawing and photos or video of the working chain reaction with the maker’s name, age, and school. Please have your parent send the email.