This past weekend, my son and I visited the LEGO store. Outside of the store, LEGO has created a play area in which children (and adults too) design a car and then race it against other designers. I stood there longer than I would have liked as Matthew designed, raced, redesigned, raced, and redesigned his car until he finally won the race. He was so focused and motivated to solve the design problem alongside children of various other ages (including teenagers).
Once I was able to finally tear him away, I launched into a quick science mini-lesson about force, mass, and acceleration. (Thanks to my many years of teaching 6th grade science.) He was able to quickly connect the changes in his design and his successful win to the ideas related to force, mass, and acceleration.
How do we create these types of opportunities in our classrooms?