Cubs Keep Afloat Despite Challenges: Second Annual DCC Competition

Abbigail Alonzo, Echoes Editor-in-Chief

What if you were handed a brown paper bag full of miscellaneous junk—tinfoil, straws, cups—and told to create an object that could both hold weight and float on water? Well, that’s exactly what Mount Carmel students were asked to do on Friday, January 5th.

This assignment is the school’s annual Design Cycle Challenge; students are given supplies and instructions and are left to work together to reach their objective using knowledge from all subjects. This year’s challenge was to create a floating city. The idea was to produce a prototype for a city that could sustain an entire community.

During their independent study periods, students were instructed to build an object that could float in a pool of water, could hold weight, and aesthetically represented a city. The homerooms then split into two teams and created two different prototypes. After fifty minutes of collaboration, creation, and testing, each homeroom voted on the better of the two prototypes. The chosen creation advanced to the next round.

The next level was a grade-wide competition. Each grade gathered to observe presentations given by two representatives from each homeroom. The presenters were asked to explain their creations to two faculty judges and demonstrate how their project floated and held weight. The judges asked questions about the city’s living conditions, governments, and economies, among other questions, putting students on the spot and inspiring them to improvise. Students were then surprised by having to place two rolls of pennies onto their device to demonstrate their prototype’s stability; some projects had no issue holding the weight, and others flipped over or sunk down under the water. After seeing the demonstrations and hearing the presentations, judges deliberated and chose the overall best prototype from each grade.

Five projects, one from each grade, were chosen to be presented in front of the entire student body and faculty. This time, they would be judged by professionals in the Navy and Coast Guard. The process repeated itself; but the questions were more in depth and intense, and more weight was tested. The juniors ended up taking the ultimate prize of skipping the lunch line and being able dress comfortably for school, but every student and teacher took something away from this challenge.

The challenge served as a learning experience. We learned that it is okay to fail; failure is inevitable. Failure teaches persistence. The challenge reminded us to learn from our mistakes to improve our actions in the future and to continue to try again until we succeed.

Projects like these may seem silly and even irrelevant to some people, but they truly are important to integrate into curriculum. Why? They teach things that cannot be read in a text book or studied on flash cards. They teach lessons that will do much more than land us our dream jobs; these lessons shape our resilience, innovation, and character.