A Bug's Life Mini-Challenge

USA Bugs Life Project 

Posted on June 24, 2013
The Priory Witham Academy, United Kingdom

"Over the last week a number of Year 9 pupils have been part of a trial connecting the UK to the USA. The design project aimed to allow US and UK pupils to work on a joint project via Skype. The project has been organised by Dave Bramston and a well known figure within the USA called Doris Wells-Papanek.

The project has been conducted between ourselves and schools in Philadelphia and Boston. The theme of the project is 'A Bug's Life Depends on Food'. 

The pupils had to create a storage device that the Ants from 'A Bugs Life' could use to protect their food from the grasshopper etc. 

All the pupils had were string, marshmallows (the food), spaghetti, scissors and paper. They then pitched, provided feedback and interacted with a group of pupils, who were much older, possibly Year 11 or above,
from the USA

Mini-Challenge Overview


A Bug’s Life Depends on Food!

Form of Design Outcome

Food Storage System Design

Problem Statement

As depicted in the 1998 movie “A Bug’s Life” – each year a gang of marauding grasshoppers demand an oppressed colony of ants to “offer” a special food stash in addition to their own stored supply

Challenge Prompt

In preparation for an 2014 sequel, “A Bug’s Life Goes Green” – now that Hopper and his gang have been successfully dismantled, your job is to design a new food storage system for the colony

Critical Question

What level of impact might a sustainable food storage design have on the quality of the ant’s way of life?

Assessment Criteria

The food storage system design strives to effectively protect the colony’s food stash from potential invaders for many years to come

Supplies Needed

Recycled paper, scissors, string, marshmallows, and packaged dried spaghetti

Design Learning Process: www.designlearning.us/the-design-learning-process

Step 1)  Explore

Prepare your kids for the challenge with a fun exercise to explore key concepts, important skills, and connections

Watch “A Bug’s Life” Trailer

*      Ask students to take mental notes of what they see with their eyes – and

*      What level of impact did the visualization and drama have on the circus

Step 4)  Demonstrate

Guide students as they develop and demonstrate new understandings, skills, and connections to real life

Guide students as they develop and demonstrate their new understandings:

*      Pace projects to ensure students develop the capacity to plan and solve

*      Use formative assessment to ensure implementation of creative/innovative