Design Cycle Experience
Posted 01/05/2018 05:35PM

Students worked together on a school-wide Design Cycle Experience, collaborating in small groups through seven steps: Ask, Research, Imagine, Plan, Create, Evaluate, and Improve. The end result was a gymnasium full of floating cities, but it all began with the idea of "seasteading."

"Seasteading" is the concept of building a livable, functional community on the water. The term comes from "homesteading," creating a self-sufficient environment in a previously uninhabited place. Floating cities aren't just for aquaculture and ocean views. Seasteading could provide new communities for those affected by rising sea levels, overcrowding, or other treacherous situations.

On January 4, during Independent Study (I.S.), students began to research "seasteading" and were tasked with building a prototype of a floating city. They discussed taking care of God's creation (one of the Catholic Social Teachings) by thinking about sustainable living and upcycling. They divided into two groups. Each group was given a bag with various materials such as straws, cups, foil, candles, tape, and rubber bands. Students took on different roles to complete the challenge. A recorder documented the process, a timekeeper communicated the best strategies for completion while keeping the group on track, Research and Imagine (R&I) Teams spearheaded research efforts, and Plan and Create (Prototype) Teams turned the R&I ideas into working models. Each group also designated two students for the Presentation Team. These students were responsible for sharing their group's ideas and concepts while demonstrating the functionality of their prototype to a panel of judges. At the end of I.S., the homerooms tested both of their prototypes and determined which one would go on to represent them in a grade level competition.

On January 5, the grade level challenges brought each class together for a friendly competition. The prototypes were placed in baby pools, and each one was judged on three criteria: functionality, aesthetics, and presentation. In a surprise twist, students also learned their floating city would need to hold a roll of pennies. One prototype was declared the winner for each grade level. Each grade level was now represented by one floating city and the entire class was invited to give input for changes and improvements. Students had one more opportunity to make changes to their model before the final round.

The entire student body gathered in the Assembly Center for the final round. The final five prototypes were placed in baby pools in front of a panel of judges (including members of the Navy and Coast Guard). Students pitched their ideas for their floating cities and attempted to maintain buoyancy after adding 10 rolls of pennies to their vessels. After submitting their scores and deliberating, the judges declared the winners.

2018 Design Cycle Experience Winners:

Functionality: Juniors
Design Aesthetics: Sophomores
Presentation: 8th Graders

Overall winner: Juniors

An incredible amount of hard work, collaboration, and ingenuity went into each of the floating cities. Congratulations to all of our students on a job well done!

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