An elevated cat or dog bed so they don’t have to sleep on the floor, ribbons for a cat toy wand, and a food dispenser for any animal, these were just some of the items that 5th grade students designed to comfort and entertain the cats and dogs at the Jacksonville Humane Society.
The students first researched shelter animals. “We learned what dogs and cats like and what they didn’t like,” one 5th grader said.
Before the students worked through problems with their designs in teams, they had to "sell" their ideas to their teammates. The 5th graders then started working in groups to realize their conceptions. In the Shark Lab, various stations were used in the project, including CAD design/3D printing, woodworking and sewing.
They tested their designs, which included learning from what didn’t work, and improved them. For one team’s “cat garden,” the 5th grade students thought one central support would keep the platform supported. They ended up having to add two support poles and then two more.
“We built beds for cats and dogs. The beds were comfy and we put the Jacksonville Humane Society logo on them. My favorite part of the project was using all the cool materials,” 5th grader Laila said. Other ideas were a ramp for a senior dog to reach an elevated bed or a vehicle and a cat bed with different strings dangling from a frame for entertainment.
“We made a big crate and a bed with two extra pillows for a cat. I think the cats will like it. My favorite part was cutting, painting, and sewing,” 5th grader Alexander said. “I had never sewn before but it made me want to sew more.”
Students enjoyed collaborating on the project. “Working together made it fun,” 5th grade student Zoe responded.
“It took hard work, collaboration, and perseverance,” said Jake about the food dispenser he helped to develop.
The items, which were demonstrated by the students at the STEM Expo, will be donated to the Jacksonville Humane Society. These project-based learning units helped students improve their 21st century skills of creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.