Glitter Bombs and Education

I laughed hysterically watching would be thieves getting covered in glitter and fart spray. If you are not sure what I am talking about, there is a Youtube video making the rounds on the internet showing a gentleman taking revenge on some package thieves. He is an engineer and was able to create a package that took video, uploaded it to the cloud, tracked the package via GPS, flung glitter, and sprayed fart spray on a few people who stole packages off of front porches.

While the sinful side of me took joy watching payback unfold right before my eyes, I also reflected on the learning process that took place on the video and whether my students are walking a similar process in my class.

He started with an idea of what he wanted. In science class this would be called “forming a hypothesis” but we usually call it “making an educated guess” in history class. He decided what the goal was for his project. He wanted a package that did very specific things. In my classroom I do not think I use prediction as well as I could. Making an educated guess at events that might happen next is a skill that is developed over time. While not a “testable skill” it is a skill that students will need to develop in their lives to understand the possible consequences for actions.

Next, he used his resources to collect materials that accomplished the goals he set out for. I noticed at this point that while he does play to his strengths as an engineer, he did employ some help to accomplish his goals. He constructed something that looked like it would accomplish the goal of payback.

He used his knowledge in building the product to test his goals. He methodically tested each element (the GPS, the camera, the motor for the spinner, etc.) to make sure it did exactly what he wanted it to. He did not include a lot of this footage in the final video, but I would guess there was a bit of trial an error in a machine this complicated.

Lastly he put his product into the real world to see what it could do…and it was spectacular.

My reflections on this process are:

  • Do I allow my students to come up with good ideas and put them to the test? This would be difficult in a history classroom, but I think it would be good for my kids
  • Do I use real world application enough? Again, difficult in a history classroom, but I think it is possible during certain units of study.
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