Day 1: Design Challenge

We are off to an amazing start in Cape Coast. One of the reasons for our success is due in large part to our support staff. The lead instructors for the 2011 SITE: Ghana are Chelsey Roebuck, Clayton Dahlman, Jerome Jackson, and Thabo D’Anjou. Each of the instructors from the US are being assisted by students from the University of Cape Coast. Kofi is assisting with the Energy Sources class, David is assisting with the Water Resources class, Theo is assisting with the Electronics class, and Allan is assisting with the Business Technology class. Bismark and Roger are instructors of Science and IT at the school who are also assisting.

We began Monday with a bridge building exercise to get the students creative juices flowing. Students were given 30 minutes to design and sketch bridges subject to certain design constraints including minimum span, minimum height, cost, and materials. Each group was given a fictitious budget and asked to design their project within the allotted time, and under budget. Raw materials such as wood, bricks, and string were priced and sold by the cm from the “market”.

Every 20 minutes a rule was added or removed from the game to create a constantly changing environment. The price of materials increased or decreased in cost based off of supply and demand theory. Some groups, after defaulting on their loans from the Royal Bank of Chelsey, went as far as to visit the forest just outside the school property to chop down their own trees and sell their excess materials back to the market or to other groups.

After a couple hours, the bridges began to take shape. By the close of the market, each of the groups had a structure that resembled a bridge. The bridges were tested by spanning them across two laboratory tables then hanging bags of rocks from their center beams. While all of the groups performed well enough to support at least a reusable shopping bag full of rocks, the two strongest bridges were able to support over one hundred pounds.

The bridge activity was the perfect exercise to transition into the first week of classes. We have about 50 students from 6-7 different schools that attend the program daily. We have just completed the first cycle of classes and things are better than we could have hoped. We will be sure to post a full week one update this weekend.

Until then, stay tuned…


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