Godzilla was Loose in the Library and Second Graders were Ready for Him!

By ILIS Department members Mary Catherine Coleman and Sarah Beebe
During Integrated Learning and Information Science, 2nd graders put their design, building and collaboration skills to the test to prepare for a visit from the mythical monster Godzilla. The weeks-long research and building project was inspired by 2nd graders’ love for and knowledge of all things Godzilla. They asked if there could be a Godzilla-themed project in 2nd grade, and the ILIS team set to work to come up with a fun and engaging experience.

One day in ILIS class, 2nd graders received a message from Mayor Frank of the city of Parkeropolis: He needed the 2nd graders’ help. He heard they were innovative designers and thinkers, and Parkeropolis was under threat from a mysterious monster who was waking up. The scientists of Parkeropolis learned the creature was not trying to destroy the city because he had changed his ways. However, because of his size and features, he could do damage to the buildings, bridges and schools of Parkeropolis. Mayor Frank asked the 2nd graders to work together to plan, design and build prototypes that could withstand a visit from this creature. Included with the letter were packets of materials for 2nd graders to use to research and learn more about this mysterious creature. Mayor Frank also let the students know he would be sending something to help test their prototypes.

Second graders got into design groups and started researching. Students learned about Godzilla’s height and weight compared to other structures and objects. For example, Godzilla weighs 66,000 tons, the same as nine blue whales, and Godzilla is seven times taller than Niagara Falls! They also collected information about Godzilla’s features; for example, he can swim and has bony plates on his back and tail. After groups looked through their research materials and collected data, they were ready to plan and design buildings, bridges and schools that could withstand the visit. Their instructions indicated that their projects should not hurt Godzilla, but he should be able to bump or knock into their builds and survive, or they could deter Godzilla. They had learned in their research that Godzilla was a kind creature now, just big and clumsy!
The design groups came up with many creative ideas, including using springs so buildings and bridges could bounce back if knocked over, shiny materials to distract Godzilla, buildings on wheels so they could move and even a building with a Godzilla doll to show they were all friends. Once the groups had their plans, they started building their prototypes using materials in the TIDES Garage. Second graders used everything from cardboard and duct tape to bubble wrap and tinfoil. Each group collaborated on their materials and design choices and made changes and adjustments as they built to make their prototypes work.

Finally, it was test day! Second graders received word from Mayor Frank that Parkeropolis would be sending a tester to see if their prototypes worked. On testing day, students set up their Parkeropolis prototypes—and then Godzilla arrived! Godzilla—Mr. Shaker in an inflatable Godzilla suit—tested each prototype to see if its design would work. The 2nd graders’ prototypes were a success!

This wonderful project developed from student interest and collaboration with teachers. Second graders worked together, designed, planned, ideated and prototyped different ideas and were very successful in collaborating, taking information and designing based on what they learned. They used different materials to bring their ideas to life—plus, it is always a fun project when an inflatable Godzilla comes to visit!

Click here for photos from this experience.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.