TEAM 1403 COUGAR ROBOTICS
PROJECT/ACTIVITY: Ethical Decisions
Where: Montgomery High School
Number of Students: 80
Action Items: Masking tape, Regular Plastic Straws, and Thicker and Larger Plastic Straws.
Impact on Team: The second Cougar Class started off with the mentors talking about the importance of ethics and how it will impact the overall values of the team. They gave examples about different ethical values and how students think based on these values. The mentors began with interesting questions, such as if Thanos’s snap from Marvel Universe’s Avengers: Infinity War was ethical, and students gave their opinions and ideas on the question. After using the question to make the students think, the mentors then began to thoroughly explain the different types of ethics. One such rule that was discussed was utilitarianism, which states that actions can be considered morally correct if they benefit the most amount of people. Another concept discussed was de-ontology, which simply states that actions are right and wrong based on various rules (like how murder is bad and sharing is good), without considering the consequences.
The challenge activity was similar to the activity in the first Cougar Class, but with a few notable differences. Teams were given a pack of straws along with some tape. With these materials, the teams had to create the highest tower possible that could also hold the largest amount of weight. Teams had to consider whether to focus on getting the most height, the most weight, or to focus on both. If a team was able to answer a question about the presentation, they were rewarded with additional tape. The mentors also decided to spice up the competition by switching the captains helping each team for faster paced game.
The results of the activity were interesting for various reasons. The addition of measuring resistance made some teams choose to create shorter buildings that could sustain high amounts of weight, taller buildings that could sustain small amounts of weight, or even a balance between the two. Also, teams used the straws provided in different ways: Many teams cut the straws and bent them in various ways in order to make their straw structures stronger. Other teams bunched straws together to create a shorter but sturdier bundle. In this Cougar Class, students not only had the task to tackle the challenges in a given time period, but with the addition of the leaders being switched, it made communication and teamwork all the more important. Overall, this activity allowed the team members to develop and improve their creative thinking and teamwork skills.