The Little Learning Warriors at Woolslair Elementary recently enjoyed a special day when they were joined by their families, who assisted them in learning how to design and use an assembly line to produce the most “toys” — Color Cubes — in a given amount of time.

Each small group was given a set of markers, construction paper, scissors, tape, and began with a discussion on the role of industrial engineers.  “Industrial engineers often design assembly lines to make millions of products like cell phones, shoes, or cars,” the students were informed.  “Instead of each person in a factory making an entire car by themselves, a company might have an assembly line in which many people add parts to the same car.  As a car moves down the line, one person might add the tires, another person adds the doors, and another person adds the engine.  A company can make more cars faster this way!”

The groups of students and their families were instructed to imagine that they’re working for a toy company that has to produce mass amounts of a new product called “Color Cubes”.  Their job, as industrial engineers, was to come up with a way to produce the most Color Cubes in a given amount of time.  The groups were given the following parameters for their products to be considered proper Color Cubes: 3 sides must be the same color; the other 3 sides must be a different color; 3 sides must have stripes; 3 sides must have polka dots.  Each cube must look the same as the others.

After 5 minutes of brainstorming, the groups had 10 minutes to make as many Color Cubes as they could manage.  When finished, each group compared their Color Cubes for quality, quantity, and processes used, and discussed ways in which they could improve the design of the assembly line to make even more cubes next time.

It was a great way for the families of the Little Learning Warriors to get involved in the learning process and get active with their children in STEM projects and industrial engineering.