Ideas run the course in the HACK Lab

Architect Edmund Bacon once said, “It’s in the doing that the idea comes.” There is plenty of doing and ideas in the Northside Elementary HACK Lab. 

Travis Wood welcomes third- through fifth-graders into this makerspace for hands-on, age-appropriate activities that engages students’ creativity, teamwork and problem-solving skills. 

HACK Lab stands for (Northside) Heroes Actively Construct Knowledge. The dedicated space has been in action for three years. 

Fifth-grade students partook in a marble roller coaster activity that challenged the students to use pipe insulation, tape, wooden blocks and paper for their creations. This activity introduced students to physics and engineering concepts while incorporating teamwork and communication skills. While a course of loops, hills and corkscrews was the end product, the payoff was the lessons along the way. 

“Today’s activity focuses on the art of noticing where things go wrong and how to make adjustments,” said Wood. 

That lesson wasn’t lost on Evan Greene, a fifth-grader in Joseph Kaemmerlen’s class. 

“It didn’t always work well, but we all did parts of it and tried to help,” said Greene. “When something didn’t work, we would try and take that part off and see if we could do something else to make it work. The hill was too steep, so we tried to put a block there to slow the marble down.” 

“My favorite part was working as a team,” added Greene. 

At the end of the lesson, Wood shared photographs he took of the students working. 

“Every single one of these pictures is one of you trying something through building and seeing where it does and doesn’t work through testing,” said Wood. 

Successful testing was a highlight for many of the students. 

“I really liked when you did something that you didn’t think would work and then it did,” said Helena Dixon. 

The day may have focused on marbles running through a foam track but the thinking, building and noticing were skills that are used beyond the HACK Lab. 

“Writing is building with words,” said Wood. “When you try something, you read to yourself, say ‘No, I need to try something new’ and then it gets better each time.” 

At the end of the fifth-graders visit to the HACK Lab, Wood left them with a final piece of advice: 

“Whether it’s writing pieces, solving math problems or doing science experiments, you don’t know if it’ll work but you have to take a shot.”

Writing is building with words,” said Wood. “When you try something, you read to yourself, say ‘No, I need to try something new’ and then it gets better each time.