Spark Tank Challenge: Create an Innovative Sound Solution for Saturn Science Lab

Saturn Science Lab

With the beginning of the new year, we thought we would introduce the Dwight community to a new concept: The Spark Tank Challenge. Our first challenge is a competition of sorts to encourage our students to design an innovative soundproofing solution for our newly designed Saturn Science lab. There are a lot of wonderful features to this new classroom space, but one unforeseen consequence is that it can get rather noisy when in use by a class of students.

So far, a number of ninth graders have accepted the challenge and are now in the beginning stages of designing an original solution. They started the process by doing a creative idea generation activity.

Provocative Idea Creation, otherwise known as PO, is meant to encourage one to think outside of the box and generate more creative and original ideas. Now most of you are probably thinking this is a simple thing, just order some soundproofing foam and attach it to the walls and/or ceiling in strategic places. Done. But we are looking to develop a new idea, approach or product here and so we need to get away from the obvious solutions.

What is a PO idea? Basically, think of something impossible, weird or hilarious as a solution. Here’s what our Saturn Designers generated in their first PO brainstorming session. Now get ready for some crazy ideas:

  1. Create mouth sponges to lower the sound of people
  2. Create a vacuum of the room so that no sound can be generated
  3. Put sponges all over the walls
  4. Everyone can wear special ear plugs
  5. Only whispering is allowed
  6. Whenever someone speaks they have to whisper to the person next to them and then that person whispers the same message to the next person and so on until everyone gets the message
  7. Fill the room with water like a fish tank
  8. Give everyone walkie-talkies (two way radios)
  9. Single out loud mouths and tell them to talk more quietly
  10. Modify people’s larynx’s so that they can’t speak too loudly
  11. Sew mouths shut
  12. Only use online chat
  13. Design tables made of soundproofing foam or acoustic tiles

OK, now I know you are thinking that this seems like a strange way to solve a problem, but remember we are trying to get our brains out of their usual thinking patterns so that we can create something original. The idea is that these wacky ideas will lead to something no one has ever thought of and hopefully something that will lead to a better solution.

Now it’s time for the students to start researching the problem. I’ll let you know some of the different things they find out and keep you up to date on our progress.






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