Springboard’s IdeaBuilder program challenges students to think outside the box.

A spinning pen to prevent boredom. A pet parachute enabling a soft landing. An automatic shoe cleaner.  These ground-breaking inventions emerged from the minds of 10-year-old St. Louis inventors participating in IdeaBuilder, Springboard’s STEM residency program.

Over the course of eight weeks, Mr. Boyer’s fourth grade students at Bayless Elementary in St. Louis County put their creative thinking and collaborative skills to the test.  The students, led by Springboard teaching partner/artists Carrie Lanius and Celeste Nicholas, formed collaborative teams and selected a real-world problem that required a solution. Once a problem was identified, inventor teams collaborated on possible solutions, documenting their ideas and conclusions in their logbooks. Lanius and Nicholas urged students to consider the same things a real-life designer might consider – ease of operation, cost to consumers, the amount of demand for their product and more. Once a final design was drafted, teams crafted a prototype of their proposed solution. Prototypes were crafted from everyday items like plastic cups, foil, cardboard boxes and clothes pins. Even Mr. Boyer pitched in as the chief cardboard cutter!

To showcase their creations, the class held an IdeaBuilder Fair. Each builder team presented their inventions to staff, parents and students as guests moved from station to station. The only group missing were TV’s Shark Tank investors!

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