Our school is under construction right now, as we are getting a renovation. (I will be getting a new art room, and am over the moon excited, but I digress.) In using the idea of innovation/discovery with my 3rd graders, we discussed how innovation is the improvement on something we already have, or do. It's intent is to improve our life in some way. With that in mind, the students and I brainstormed what we like about playgrounds and what we didn't. For example, splinters on our tree house, or slides that get one's behind wet after a good rain. We started imagining what a new playground might include during the renovation, and sketched out ideas. Then, I broke out the paper, pipe cleaners, straws, tape, glue, etc and we made small models of our playgrounds. Much editing and problem solving ensued. I think it is important to encourage my students to think through their problems, and challenge themselves to solve them. I also am always looking for those projects which will be fun for all, but challenge my smarties to think. They loved this one. We are going to send our plans and pictures of our models to the architects. No promises were made to the students about whether or not we'd get any of our plans included, but we can dream. Personally, I think we'll be glad if all they do is "unsqueak" our swings, but who knows.