As part of the Rockets Quest, Acton Middle School learners participate in the Rockets Money Challenge. Learners are separated into groups for quest. To help build teamwork and develop collaborative skills, learners conduct research, complete quest challenges, experiment, and engineer rockets in their groups. Learners are presented with the opportunity to earn “money” in their groups with the Rockets Money Challenge. The Rockets Money Challenge serves as a system of accountability that is integrated into several aspects of studio culture and life.
In order to earn the Rockets Quest Badge at the end of the session, learners must complete the following requirements: participate in and complete all quest challenges; complete all entries, technical diagrams, materials safety data sheets, and observations for their lab notebooks; make a prediction of who will drive the next big wave of space and rocketry innovations based on evidence gathered from research; launch at least two successful rocket prototypes; and launch a final rocket that will fly at least three meters high during exhibition. In contrast to earlier rocket building and launching activities, which include all the necessary materials up front, learners are challenged to purchase all of the materials they need for their rocket prototypes and final rocket.
As indicated in the challenge title, learners earn money by completing challenges in their groups. The Rockets Money Challenge “menu” includes the following ways for learners to earn money: complete a quest, genre, or civilizations activity; be on time all day; have a successful Socratic discussion by following the Rules of Engagement; actively participate in studio maintenance; earn a CrossFit rating of five from the CrossFit coach; earn at least an average rating of four on a scale of one to five for the heroic character trait of the week from peers; follow the 3Bs before G process before asking a guide a question; engineer a rocket that lifts off of the ground; and win a rocket launch challenge. Learners purchase the items they need to engineer their rockets with the money they earn from completing the challenges listed above.
While building a rocket prototype, one Acton Middle School team accidentally pushed their cork too far into the opening of their water bottle and could not get it out. In response to this incident, one learner exclaimed, “Let’s try and get the cork out as carefully as we can so we don’t waste any materials! We just spent a bunch of money on our items for this rocket.” With careful concentration and execution, learners were able to successfully remove the cork, still use the cork, and save money.