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The Most Magnificent Thing

Ashley Spires

The Most Magnificent Thing

CT Discussion Companion



This is a fictional story about a girl that decides to build the most magnificent thing but with all her planning, she fails over and over again until finally she decides to quit. Her best friend, who is a dog, convinces her to take a walk to clear her mind, which allows her to return to her project and build it just right! Her perseverance and creativity allow her to create a truly magnificent thing!

This is a very important concept in engineering. Things do not always work right on the first try, and it's important to look critically at what went wrong, and then try again to make a better version. This covers the aspects of the design process and debugging, important software engineering processes. Also, for kids this age, it helps them persevere rather than giving up.


Questions to discuss with students after reading this story in order to connect the reading to computational thinking.


  1. Why did the girl never give up? [She wanted to build a magnificent thing.]

  2. When the girl became upset, what strategy did the girl's assistant use to help her? How did it help her? [He suggested taking a walk. She was able to cool down and when she came back she noticed all the things that were right and was finally able to make her magnificent thing.]

    1. When something does not work the first time, what could you do before trying it again? [Take a break; figure out what went wrong and fix it or try something different.]

  3. What do you think Perseverance means? [The ability to keep trying, even when it doesn't work the first time, or second, or third.]

  4. What can you do before trying something that might help you achieve your goal? [Think about the best way to do it; develop a plan or a list of steps; ask for help]



Design and Build a Magnificent Thing:

Working with a partner, students use their imaginations to design a simple invention, then build it. They sketch out their design on paper and create a list of materials (blocks, cardboard, glue, rubber bands, string, colored paper, crayons, markers). While they build it, they keep a log of the issues that they came across and what they did to revise their design. When done, students present their designs. They discuss the issues they came across and what they did when things did not work.

Across the River:

A farmer has a fox, a chicken, and a bag of corn that he needs to take across the river in a boat. In small groups, students figure out how the farmer can take all three things across the river without anything getting eaten. The farmer can only take one thing at a time. If the fox and chicken are left together, the fox will eat the chicken. If the chicken and the corn are left together, the chicken will eat the corn. The fox will not eat any corn. If the farmer is with them, everything is safe. The farmer can take things across the river and bring them back. Students can use a drawing of a river and cutouts for the fox, chicken, corn, farmer, and boat. With older students, they can act out the roles of the farmer, fox, chicken, and corn. It may be helpful for students to write down the different ways they tried to complete the task and how many tries it took before they succeeded. 


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