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Zoo Train Challenge Kick-off

Our Zoo Train challenge kicked off this morning with close to 70 students from 6 area high schools meeting at the Zoo. This year students are taking on the design of a replacement for the wooden water tower that services the Zoo’s steam locomotives. The tower has been in place since the train was first installed at the Zoo 60 years ago. At that time it was positioned between the two sets of tracks that run past the station. When safety requirements dictated four feet of clearance between the train and the tower it was moved to its present location, near the gate where riders exit.

On hand for the event were Davidson Ward, from the Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR), and Ken Ristow, who has worked as an engineer for the Zoo train for the past 20 years. Davidson provided background on CSR’s bio-fuel testing at the Zoo. CSR is working with the University of Minnesota to develop a fuel to replace coal for recreational steam railways like the Zoo’s. Ken was able to address what it’s like to work with the current water tower, where they’ve had to make do, and what they’d like to see improved. That includes the educational display which currently stands near the water tower.

Student teams had been given a set of guidelines for the project at the start of the semester, so they came well prepared with questions for us, CSR, and Zoo staff.

Design Thinking Workshop at Briggs & Stratton

We were delighted to have Briggs & Stratton’s Concept Team host a design thinking workshop for students engaged in our Zoo Train Challenge.  The Briggs team took the students through a crash course in design thinking following the model developed at Stanford’s D School.

With that as background, students walked through a process to:

  • Understand the concerns of Zoo staff who interact with the water tower used to service the Zoo’s steam locomotives
  • Define a key problem that would be the focus of their efforts
  • Generate ideas for potential solutions
  • Create a prototype to demonstrate their concept.

 

Beyond sparking some initial thinking, the session served as a great chance for teachers leading student teams to connect around how they look to run the project.

The session wrapped up with a chance to explore some Briggs & Stratton designs in virtual reality and a great deal of pizza.

2018-19 Collab Labs

Collab Labs are back for a 3rd season

We’ve set the schedule for this year’s Collab Labs.  In Collaboration with SafeNet Consulting, we’re kicking off the season on October 11th with a look at developing computer science talent. Through the continued support of The Commons, we’ll be back in Ward 4– now with street car service (well, tracks).

Here’s the schedule:

Nov 11

Collab Lab 43: Prototyping and Testing Ideas

Thursday November 11 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Dec 09

Collab Lab 44: Working with community partners

Thursday December 9 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Feb 10

Collab Lab 45: The student experience on real world projects

Thursday February 10, 2022 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Mar 10

Collab Lab 46: Connecting Projects Across Grade Levels

Thursday March 10, 2022 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Apr 14

Collab Lab 47: The Fellows Experience – What We’ve Learned

Thursday April 14, 2022 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
May 12

Collab Lab 48: Re/Connect

Thursday May 12, 2022 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm