The Rappin’ Bananas – our Omers

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I’m a little behind in my reporting, but I wanted to show off Jonathan’s Odyssey of the Mind group, “The Rappin’ Bananas.”  OM is a creative problem solving competition for children (got that smack off the website), that Jonathan participated in this year.  I got to be the assistant coach.

Each year there are five new “problems,” and Jonathan’s team chose the balsa wood problem.  They had to build a structure using only balsa wood and glue that couldn’t weigh more than 18 grams (about the weight of five nickles) and it had to hold as much weight as possible and withstand “shock waves,” that the kids created by dropping weights onto the structure.

I coached along with another Dad, but this is a kid driven program and the kids have to come up with their designs, tests, and presentation on their own.  Here are some pictures of Jonathan testing one of his structures.

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These kids totally amazed me with their ideas and it was super cool to witness the evolution from the first structures they built that broke with 20 lbs. to the final structure that held 140 lbs. and withstood five series of shock waves.  I’ve never seen the learning process played out so vividly before.  Indulge me in an example.

On one Saturday Gavin brought a structure to test that was three sided.  Hannah had one that was four sided.  Both were well made, but the four sided one preformed better.  Jonathan wondered aloud if four was better than three, then maybe five sides would be better than four.  The kids talked about if they used more wood to make another side, they wouldn’t be able to have as many cross supports without going over their weight limit.  They decided to build a five sided structure to test, and the next Saturday they found out that it did, indeed, hold more weight.  Very Cool!

They also had to come up with a creative presentation of their solution, and include costumes made with trash materials, hence the newspaper mache banana hats. 

If you have kids who are wondering about doing OM next year, I give it a thumbs up.

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