TEAM LEAD: KIMBERLY JUNG | DESIGNERS: CHRIS FREY, KATIE MUSIAL, SINA PARSNEJAD
COMMUNITY PARTNERS: NORTH ELEMENTARY
This summer we're reviving SuperConductors (née MAGLEV), a DFA MSU project that started three years ago with the How Can We statement "How Can We enable communities to initiate the move towards renewable energies?". This project quickly shifted when we partnered with North Elementary in Lansing and focused instead on hands-on teaching in classrooms. Our next focus is testing with more teachers and producing a second version of the maglev train developed in the first iteration of this project. Our new How Can We statement is "How can we assist elementary teachers who have few resources to educate their students through play?
SuperConductors is both a product and a service. The product is a model magnetic levitation train that teachers can use to teach not only science concepts like magnetism, gravity, etc., but also collaboration and design thinking. The service is the maintenance of an online forum where teachers can open-source their lesson plans around the program, and for select schools, the facilitation of the program by DFAMSU members. The train consists of a 16 ft track with strips of magnets on the edges that repel against magnets on the train cars, causing them to float above the track. Gravity provides acceleration. Students first split in to teams of two and draw out how they want their train cars to look, with guidance from facilitating DFAMSU members. The students then build their train cars on top of our bases, adding weights and sails and anything else they can create with popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, stickers, and marbles. Halfway through building, students are encouraged to test their cars on the track and make any final adjustments they deem necessary before the cars are raced. On two parallel tracks, the trains are released in a round-robin elimination style race. After the competition, students share out what they observed and learned.
SuperConductors aims to provide significant educational benefit to elementary schools and after-school programs through our easily repeatable programs at a significantly lower cost than similar learning experiences. We are a program that can be run independently by schools at a fraction of a cost of going on a field trip, with equipment that can be stored easily and reused, and an open-source platform for teachers to create and share lessons around our program, constantly improving and innovating on what we have already built. A goal of ours is to create a one-for-one buying model that will give an underfunded school/after-school program a train kit for free when another school/program buys one. The advantages of SuperConductors compared to other similar learning experiences are that we are cheaper than other options, easily facilitated, and open-source. We are closely tapped in to our market and are working closely with educators to refine our product and make the learning experience the best it can be.
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