They’re a Meta*Force to be reckoned with!

This June for the Wichita, Kansas, Make48 competition, Laura Green and Rebecca Groebe teamed up to create a prototype addressing the challenges of community gardening.

Their team, Meta*Force, was formed from years of collaboration, friendship, and a newly found obsession with Make48. Laura, an English teacher, and Rebecca, a science teacher, are also co-founders of Cotyleadon, an idea germination think tank based in Kansas City, Missouri.

We asked them about their experience at the competition. Here’s what they said:

Why Participate in Make48?

One weekend, while at the lake on a rainy weekend…with no Wi-Fi and only PBS Create on the TV, I (Laura) stumbled upon a Make48 episode, which turned into a Make 48 Marathon.

I don’t even think I waited until I got home to call Rebecca asking her to join a team with me. This started another season of Make48 marathon and we were hooked. We knew we wanted to compete as a dynamic duo.

Also, we wanted to join the competition to stretch our creative muscles, and challenge ourselves the way we’ve challenged our students for years. It was so exciting to work together on a project outside of the realm of teaching. Something that was just for fun … just for us!

We make a great team because we are a perfect balance of systematic and creative thinking.  We balance each other out. We are both passionate, adventurous, and creative humanitarians. 

Together, we’ve worked on several cross-curricular STEAM projects with our students to solve real-world problems, create amazing spaces, and raise awareness of societal issues.  

Some of our best ideas have been environmental outreach; focusing on microplastics in the environment, one-time-use plastics, and engineering with environmental awareness. 

 the competition floorThe workstation. (Courtesy: Meta*Force / Facebook)

What Was the Make48 Experience Like?

This was one of the most fun, challenging, and rewarding experiences either of us had in a long time. The competition was well-organized, the Make48 and Go Create staff thought of everything.  

Everyone involved – the mentors, tool techs, Onshape’s Katie Huffman and the Onshape Gals, Amy and Tom, Kim and Ken, the master gardeners – were all incredible to work with.  

We truly felt like they all wanted us to succeed, not just in the competition, but in seeing our ideas come to life. 

It was such a collaborative experience and set the bar for how collaboration and design thinking can make change happen. 

What’s the Design Process Like in a Competition Like Make48?

As teachers, we follow the design process through project-based learning. Together, we have worked on a student competition called Battle of the Brains and student passion projects. 

But Rebecca is the real expert in student competitions as she has led her students to victory in the National Science Fair competition for 11 years. She uses the Bright Spark or IDEO design process, which focuses on the words listed below.  

For us, that means we started with empathy, by interviewing citizens of Witchita and scoping out local community gardens. We gathered information on the community’s needs and existing resources. 

From the information we gathered in the community, we defined our problem to solve. We ideated solutions that would help solve the community problem of starting a community garden that could allow all citizens to participate and find success in maximizing the food yield from the land available for community gardens. 

Onshape was extremely handy as we developed our prototypes by allowing us to visualize our concept in three-dimensional space and animating to illustrate the moving parts of our design. 

We were able to build and communicate our ideas clearly to the tool techs who provided feedback on our prototype testing phases. Onshape allowed us to incorporate the moving parts of our invention into the commercial presentation for Make48.

How Did You Overcome Any Challenges?

Communication is key! One of our biggest challenges was being a team of two, and not three or more.

This meant that we had more work to do individually and that we had to be in sync every step of the way. 

We also were able to “table” certain problems during the design process, work on something else, and then circle back with a fresh mindset to the problem. 

the Meta*Force teamLaura and Rebecca ready to design! (Courtesy: Meta*Force / Facebook)

How Did Onshape Help the Team?

Onshape allows for team collaboration and the innovation of ideas can appear more readily by allowing each member of the team access to the same project.

Being able to animate the design was not only really exciting to see as a team, but also communicated our concept to the judges effectively in our video.  

Onshape is beneficial for our secondary students to join forces and build new ideas that solve real-world problems.

What Were Your Main Takeaways?

We found that we love to innovate, create, and design … and are pretty good at it.  

We grew together as a team by facing the pressures of a 48-hour time constraint, lack of sleep, and pushing ourselves throughout the competition – but we can’t wait to do it again.  

While we didn’t come home with the trophy, we came home with many intrinsic rewards, like confidence in ourselves, and a deeper appreciation for each other.

We were competing against engineers, entrepreneurs, and teams who had competed before, and we held our own. We’re proud of what we accomplished during our time in the competition.

Try out Onshape Professional as you watch the latest Make48 season!

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