There are many specialty carrying cases.  Musicians require specific cases for their instruments, architects require special containers for their building plans, and we even have specific trash receptacles to allow for automated trucks picking up trash.  In this unit, students will be challenged to design their own specialized carrying case.  They will begin with some practice tinkering to make an object.  They will then work through lessons on measurement, and how to choose materials to aid in their design of a carrying case for the object they make.  

 

Educational outcomes

  • Students will  learn to identifying measurable attributes.
  • Students will measure length and width.
  • Students will compare and explain strengths and weaknesses of a design based on how an object performs as intended.

STEAM INTEGRATION

In the empathy phase, students will discuss material used in building cases, and what properties make those materials best suited for the intended purpose (2-PS1-2).  While working through the lessons in the define phase, students will measure the length of various objects by selecting and using appropriate tools (2.MD.A.1).  Once students reach the design challenge, they will also measure their object in comparison to their case to determine how much longer one object is than another (2.MD.A.4).


Suggestions for pacing and differentiation

If your students already have practice with measuring in non-standard units, lesson 2 may be skipped.  If they have practice with standard units as well, you can choose to skip lesson 3.  Part of lesson 3 involves students making their own measuring device.  Should you skip this, be sure to have measuring tools available to students during the design challenge.

To simplify the unit, and complete the design challenge as a single lesson, do not have students build their own object.  Instead, choose an item for which students will make a carrying case.  This could be something all students use in school, or something special and specific to your classroom.

Click on the “+” icon to open each section

Unit Materials

This unit can be completed using RAFT’s Makerspace-in-a-box kit 
or a variety of reusable materials such as:

Building Materials

  • Miscellaneous materials
  • Recycled items from your classroom/school
  • Cardboard
  • Sticks
  • Fabrics
  • Straws
  • Plastic containers
  • Foam

Connecting Materials

  • Glue
  • Tape and/or stickers
  • String/twine/yarn/ribbon

Measuring Tools

  • Ruler or anything that measures between 2″ and 1′
  • Meter and/or yardstick
  • Variety of measuring tools.  Ex: tape measure, t-square, protractor…

Other

  • Miscellaneous materials with a range of size from about 1″ to 2′

Design Thinking Overview

Our design thinking units have five phases based on the d.school’s model. Each phase can be repeated to allow students to re-work and iterate while developing deeper understanding of the core concepts. These are the five phases of the design thinking model:

EMPATHIZE: Work to fully understand the experience of the user for whom you are designing.  Do this through observation, interaction, and immersing yourself in their experiences.

DEFINE: Process and synthesize the findings from your empathy work in order to form a user point of view that you will address with your design.

IDEATE: Explore a wide variety of possible solutions through generating a large quantity of diverse possible solutions, allowing you to step beyond the obvious and explore a range of ideas.

PROTOTYPE: Transform your ideas into a physical form so that you can experience and interact with them and, in the process, learn and develop more empathy.

TEST: Try out high-resolution products and use observations and feedback to refine prototypes, learn more about the user, and refine your original point of view.

The Design Thinking Process | ReDesigning Theater. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2016, from http://dschool.stanford.edu/redesigningtheater/the-design-thinking-process/

STEAM Integrated Standards

NGSS 2-PS1-2

Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.

Common Core Math 2.MD.A.1

Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rules, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.

Common Core Math 2.MD.A.4

Measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit.

 

Lesson Overview

Students will consider what they already know about cases designed to carry and protect specific objects.  They will begin to consider which materials have properties that are best suited for the intended purpose (2-PS1-2) of each carrying case.  For example, students may look at a lunch box and understand the materials have insulation properties and are easy to clean.

 

Essential Questions:

  • What is the intended purpose of each case?
  • What about each case makes it a useful case, or an unfit case?

 

LESSON PROCEDURE:

This lesson could be a whole group teacher-facilitated discussion, or students may discuss in groups.  To aid in student-lead discussions, you may choose to have students use a maker journal page as a recording sheet.  

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Lead students through the following ideas and questions.

Student Direction

Sample teacher and student dialog

T: “People use various types of carrying cases for many different items.” Include a personal example  (When I carry my guitar around, I keep it in a guitar case.)  “What other examples can you think of?  When you’re traveling, or away from home, how do you carry your belongings?  How do pirates carry their bounty?”

S: (Various suggestions, encourage creativity)

T: “Think about things we use here at school.  What are some other carrying cases?”

S: “Pencil boxes, crayon boxes, backpacks, lunch boxes, shoes, etc.”

T: “Now think about the design of a lunch box. (use any appropriate example from student ideas)  What is its shape and size?  Why?”

S: “It’s big enough to fit a sandwich and snacks, but small enough to carry around, or fit into a backpack.”

T: “How is it designed to protect what is inside?”

S: Suggestions for material properties – flexibility vs. durability, insulation, washable…

 


Concept Quick Reference

NGSS clarification statement: Examples of properties could include strength, flexibility, hardness, texture, and absorbency.

Lesson Materials

Optional: Have an example carrying case ready for students to consider.

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

Consider having an example carrying case ready for students to discuss.  The more specialized the case, the more design elements they will be able to discuss.

Learning Targets

  • Students will be able to hypothesize which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their makerspace journal and summarize their learning in a group discussion

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their ideas regarding how different carrying cases are designed to fit and protect the objects within.

Teacher Assessment

Review student makerspace journal pages for formative assessment and discuss with individual groups as they work.

Conduct a whole group discussion to allow all students to share, discuss and compare their ideas regarding how different carrying cases are designed to fit and protect the objects within.

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, students will practice measuring lengths (2.MD.A.1) by measuring different things with non-standard measuring tools.  

 

Essential Questions:

  • Why is it useful to measure various objects?
  • How can we know the length on an object?

 

LESSON PROCEDURE:

The lesson begins with a discussion on measurement, followed by a demonstration to highlight potential errors students may encounter, and then students will practice measuring.

Student Direction

Sample teacher and student dialog

T: “Why would it be useful to measure your foot?  Or a piece of wood, or the size of a doorway?”

S: To get the right size shoe, to build something, to know if a table will fit through the door.

T: “What could you use to measure the length of something, or how long it is?”

S: Ruler, yardstick, tape measure.

T: “Think creatively.  What could you use if you don’t have any measuring tools?”

S: Your hand, shoe, finger, a person, a piece of paper, an eraser…

T: “Can you predict, make a smart guess, what might make for a good measuring tool, and what would be difficult to measure with?”

S: It would be hard to measure with your foot if you need to stand.  If you measure with a cookie, it might have a bite taken out of it.  Something that is easy to line up with what you are measuring would be a good tool.

T: Demonstrate measuring with a non-standard tool.  Ex: measure your arm with a bottle cap. “Beware extra space.  Notice when I move the cap, I line it up precisely with no extra space.  Use a friend’s finger, or mark with a pencil to help keep track.”

T: “Now you will get to measure with some of your own measuring tools.  Use the maker journal page to record your measurements.”

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If time allows, students may benefit from sharing their findings.

T: “What worked well, and what did not work well as a measuring tool?  Did anyone get very different measurements using the same tool?  Lets work out why.”

S: Various responses depending on how the activity went for each.

 

Lesson Materials

  • Miscellaneous materials with a range of size from about 1″ to 2′

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

Consider what non-standard measuring tool you will use to demonstrate for students.  Your shoe?  A favorite classroom symbol?

Active Classroom

Tips for success in an active classroom environment:

Communication is critical in the design process. Students need to be allowed to talk, stand, and move around to acquire materials. Help students become successful and care for the success of others by asking them to predict problems that might arise in the active environment and ask them to suggest strategies for their own behavior that will ensure a positive working environment for all students and teachers.

Practice and predict clean-up strategies before beginning the activity. Ask students to offer suggestions for ensuring that they will leave a clean and useable space for the next activity. Students may enjoy creating very specific clean-up roles. Once these are established, the same student-owned strategies can be used every time hands-on learning occurs.

Learning Targets

  • Students will be able to measure lengths with non-standard units.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their makerspace journal and summarize their learning in a group discussion

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their findings and share what worked well as a measuring tool, and what was difficult to use.  They can also review strategies for measuring to help correct each other should measurements be inaccurate.

Teacher Assessment

Review student makerspace journal pages for formative assessment and discuss with individual groups as they work.

Conduct a whole group discussion to allow all students to share, discuss and compare their findings on non-standard measuring tools.

Lesson Overview

In this lesson students will practice measuring with precision and selecting the appropriate tool to measure (2.MD.A.1).  They will also make their own measuring tool based off a standard unit of measurement.

 

Essential Questions:

  • Why do we have standard units of measurement?
  • How can you know the length of an object?

 

LESSON PROCEDURE:

Begin this lesson with time for students to look closely at various measuring tools.  Students will use these observations and what they learn from your class discussion to help them build a measuring tool marked with standard units.

Student Direction

Sample teacher and student dialog.

T: Invite students to look closely at a measuring tool (meter stick, yardstick, ruler..). “Think about what all the markings mean.  Why are there different sized lines?  What do the numbers and words mean?”

S: They’re inches, centimeters…

T: “What is the largest measurement on this tool?  What are some things we might measure using this unit?”

S: Meter/yard/foot depending on the tool.  We could measure the room, our heights, tables…

T: “What is the smallest measurement on this tool? What are some things we might measure using this unit?”

S: Millimeter/1 eighth of an inch.  Fingernails, ants, buttons…

T: “Could you measure your hand in meters? How big would it be?”

S: Fractions of a meter

T: “How can centimeters help us be more precise?  Would you need or want to use millimeters?”

S: Millimeters could be more precise, but you could get a pretty exact number with simple centimeters.

T: “What would you use to measure a house? a horse? a cup? an egg?”

S: Various different units appropriate for each example.

T: “Use the maker journal page to record measurements with standard tools.  Then, you will make your own measuring tool.”

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Concept Quick Reference

Imperial vs. Metric Measurements PDF

Lesson Materials

  • Meter and/or yardstick and/or ruler
  • Variety of measuring tools. Ex: ruler, tape measure, meter stick, t-square, protractor…
  • Miscellaneous building materials useful as measuring tools.  Ex: cardboard, yarn/ribbon, straws, popsicle sticks…

 

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

If not easily accessible in the classroom, collect a variety of measuring tools.

Active Classroom

Tips for success in an active classroom environment:

Communication is critical in the design process. Students need to be allowed to talk, stand, and move around to acquire materials. Help students become successful and care for the success of others by asking them to predict problems that might arise in the active environment and ask them to suggest strategies for their own behavior that will ensure a positive working environment for all students and teachers.

Practice and predict clean-up strategies before beginning the activity. Ask students to offer suggestions for ensuring that they will leave a clean and useable space for the next activity. Students may enjoy creating very specific clean-up roles. Once these are established, the same student-owned strategies can be used every time hands-on learning occurs.

Learning Targets

  • Students will be able to measure lengths with standard units.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their makerspace journal and summarize their learning in a group discussion

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their findings and share what worked well as a measuring tool, and what was difficult to use.  They can also review strategies for measuring to help correct each other should measurements be inaccurate.

Teacher Assessment

Review student makerspace journal pages for formative assessment and discuss with individual groups as they work.

Conduct a whole group discussion to allow all students to share, discuss and compare their findings on standard measuring tools.

Lesson Overview

Students’ goal for this lesson is to become comfortable with the makerspace by constructing an original object.  They will have a constraint for the length of the object which will provide them the opportunity to practice measuring length (2.MD.A.1).

 

Essential Questions:

  • How can we make something we value from recycled materials?

 

LESSON PROCEDURE:

As this lesson will provide students an opportunity to explore makerspace materials and tools, it will be important to plan out how students will access these items.  Will you be working in an unfamiliar space, or in your classroom?  How will they explore without crowding each other?  What will clean up look like?  Look at the Active Classroom tab for ideas.

Student Direction

Sample teacher and student dialog

T: “Before we start building, lets take a look at our makerspace supplies.” Hold up an object from the supplies.  “What can this be used for?”

S: Many suggestions offered.  Encourage radically different uses.

T: “How can we connect different objects?”

S: Glue, tape, tie them together, stick one into another, use stickers…

T: “What would create a flexible joint?”

S: A bent straw, pin through holes, a fabric connector

T: “What would create a solid joint?”

S: Screwing something together, welding, creating a splint

T: “Keep these ideas in mind as you build.  Before we start, let’s consider a few problems that might arise.  What could you do if a material you want to use is too big, or too small?”

S: Find a new material.  Cut it.  Tape small pieces together to make a bigger one.  Change your design to fit the size material we have.

T: “You will now build your own object.  It must be longer than 2 inches and shorter than 1 foot.  Remember to measure with a standard measuring tool.”


When students are finished, they can give each other feedback.  The maker journal page below gives them a space to draw their object, and record feedback.

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Concept Quick Reference

Examples of joints – woodworking, mechanical, etc. PDF

Lesson Materials

Building Materials

  • Miscellaneous materials
  • Recycled items from your classroom/school
  • Cardboard
  • Sticks

Connecting Materials

  • Glue
  • Tape and/or stickers
  • String/twine/yarn

Measuring Tools

  • Ruler or anything that measures between 2″ and 1′

 

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

Students should approach this with a great deal of freedom, however, depending on your space, you may want to set size limits.

Consider where projects will be stored.  Does this impose a size constraint for the project?  Will there be a different storage solution for projects students are still working on versus finished projects?

Active Classroom

Tips for success in an active classroom environment:

Communication is critical in the design process. Students need to be allowed to talk, stand, and move around to acquire materials. Help students become successful and care for the success of others by asking them to predict problems that might arise in the active environment and ask them to suggest strategies for their own behavior that will ensure a positive working environment for all students and teachers.

Practice and predict clean-up strategies before beginning the activity. Ask students to offer suggestions for ensuring that they will leave a clean and useable space for the next activity. Students may enjoy creating very specific clean-up roles. Once these are established, the same student-owned strategies can be used every time hands-on learning occurs.

Learning Targets

  • Students will gain familiarity with designing and building in their makerspace

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their makerspace journal and summarize their learning in a group discussion

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their designs and share different critical uses for their objects. Students should also share feedback for things they like, and things they might change.

Teacher Assessment

Review student makerspace journal pages for formative assessment and discuss with individual groups as they work.  Verify that students are within the length constraint.

Conduct a whole group discussion to allow all students to share, discuss and compare their designs.

Lesson Overview

Before building a carrying case (0r anything!), students will need to decide what materials will be best suited to both carry and protect their object.  In this lesson, students will be asked to consider what qualities are important when choosing their building materials.  They will test different materials to determine which have the properties that are best suited for the purpose (NGSS 2-PS1-2) of a carrying case.

 

Essential Questions:

  • What are the properties of a given material?  How strong is a given material?  How durable? How flexible?
  • What qualities are important for a material to fulfill the purpose of a carrying case?

 

LESSON PROCEDURE:

Any teacher directions not given in the sidebar go here before Student Directions

Student Direction

Sample teacher and student dialog

T: Choose a material (fabric, cardboard…) “How strong is this material?  How much weight could it hold, and how can we test that?”

S: Pile something on it until it breaks…

T: “How durable is this material?  How long will it last?  Will it hold up getting wet?  Will it get holes poked in it, or scratched with use?  How can we test its durability?”

S: Pour water on it, poke it with a pencil, rub it against something rough for a minute non-stop…

T: “How flexible is this material? Does it go back to its previous shape if you bend it? How can we test that? How can we be specific to say how flexible it is?”

S: Try bending it in half, roll it up, curve it, twist it…

T: “Can we modify this material? Can it be cut? Can it be glued?  Can it be modified with the tools we already have?”

S: Try the scissors, glue it with a glue gun or super glue or white school glue.

T: “You’re going to need to invent tests for strength, durability, flexibility, and whether or not you can change/modify any material.”

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Lesson Materials

Miscellaneous materials as found in makerspace-in-a-box

  • cardboard
  • fabrics
  • straws
  • plastic containers
  • foam

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

Optional: Before the lesson, choose some materials to demonstrate with the class how they might test for strength, etc.

Active Classroom

Tips for success in an active classroom environment:

Communication is critical in the design process. Students need to be allowed to talk, stand, and move around to acquire materials. Help students become successful and care for the success of others by asking them to predict problems that might arise in the active environment and ask them to suggest strategies for their own behavior that will ensure a positive working environment for all students and teachers.

Practice and predict clean-up strategies before beginning the activity. Ask students to offer suggestions for ensuring that they will leave a clean and useable space for the next activity. Students may enjoy creating very specific clean-up roles. Once these are established, the same student-owned strategies can be used every time hands-on learning occurs.

Learning Targets

  • Students will be able to test materials for properties (strength, flexibility) and compare

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their makerspace journal and summarize their learning in a group discussion

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their findings and share different tests for material properties that they discovered to work well. Students should also share the difficulties that they discovered in devising or performing tests.

Teacher Assessment

Review student makerspace journal pages for formative assessment and discuss with individual groups as they work.

Conduct a whole group discussion to allow all students to share, discuss and compare their findings around different ways to test material properties. Students should also share what materials, including specific properties, will best serve the intended purpose of a carrying case.

Introduce the Design Challenge

Sample student & Teacher Dialog. 

T: “You will be bringing the object you created home to share with friends and family, and to ask for feedback.  To make sure that it gets home and back to school safely, you will need to build a custom carrying case.  Think about some carrying cases you know, like a lunchbox, backpack, or glasses case.  What about those cases make them good at their job of protecting what is inside?”

S: Cases can be hard so thing inside don’t get squashed.  They are the right size so things don’t shake around.  They have a handle.

T: “Think about all we have learned so far.  Think about properties of materials you use, and precise measurements so that your object fits well.  We’re going to need some criteria and constraints for this challenge.  What do I mean when I say criteria and constraints?”

 

S: Things you have to do, and rules you need to follow.

T: “Let’s look at our criteria and constraints for this challenge.  We will need to aid a few details.  How high should we drop our cases from to test them?  How much weight should we put on them?  1 dictionary?  How far do you need to carry your case?  Across the room?”

S: Drop it from 4 feet as if you were holding it.  Put 3 books on it that might be in your backpack.  Sit on it!  Across the room 2 times.

Criteria & Constraints

Review the criteria and constraints with students.  Engineers design things using some rules about how the designs must behave or work.  These rules are called criteria.  Engineers can run out of materials, money, time to build, or space in which to build something.  In other words there are limits on how something can be built.  These limits are called constraints.  The criteria and constraints for this challenge are below.

 

Criteria (design requirements) Constraints (design limitations)
  • Case must protect the object from a fall of ___(5) feet
  • Case must protect the object from a weight of _____ resting atop the case for one minute (1 gallon, 3lb book…)
  • Case is easy to transport; can be carried ___(20) feet with one hand
  • Case is reusable; object can be removed and replaced at least __(5) times without damage to either
  • Case must be built with materials provided
  • Case must be completed and tested in the given time
  • When testing, the object must remain unchanged in size, shape, and functionality

 

 

 

 

Ideate
During the ideate phase, students will plan out their design.  They can use a Maker Journal page to draw their design, including materials, and dimensions. (Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as they iterate)

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Student Directions

T: “Before we start building, we are going to spend some time drawing ideas.  Use the Maker Journal page to draw your ideas and design.  Notice your criteria and constraints are listed on the page.”

 

S: Working mostly independently at desks, or wherever they can best concentrate on drawing.  Volume is low as students share ideas, clarify criteria, or ask each other for feedback, and complete as detailed a plan as possibly for the time available.

 

Prototype

During the prototype phase, students will build their carrying cases.  This will be a busy time with students actively working on projects, and seeking feedback and/or assistance from peers.  Check the Active Classroom toggle for ideas. (Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as they iterate)

Student Directions

 

T:  “It’s time to build your carrying case.  Keep in mind that you will be testing it, and making changes to your design to have the best possible case you can.”  Review any safety rules that may be applicable depending on tools students can use. “Remember to unplug your glue gun when you are done, or walking away.  Always wear eye-protection when cutting/drilling…”

 

 

Test your Design

During the test phase, students will work together to test their design and record notes.  They will use their Maker Journal pages to record notes for each test.  Print more pages as needed.  One strategy for this challenge would be to create various testing stations.  A station for a drop test, one for a carry test, and one for a weight test.  Students will the rotate through the stations. (Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as they iterate)

Student Directions

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T: “Use the Maker Journal page to guide you through testing your cases.  Make sure you take specific notes of how your case works, and how it can be improved.”  If you are using testing stations, remind students that they can go in any order to avoid crowding.  “What will you do once you finish testing your case?”

S: Make changes to the case, and try again.

 

 

 

Design Challenge Materials

Building Materials/Connecting Materials

  • As found in Makerspace-in-a-box

Other

  • Student built measuring tool from previous lesson
  • Student built object from previous lesson

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

Consider where students will store their carrying cases within your learning space.

Active Classroom

Tips for success in an active classroom environment:

Communication is critical in the design process. Students need to be allowed to talk, stand, and move around to acquire materials. Help students become successful and care for the success of others by asking them to predict problems that might arise in the active environment and ask them to suggest strategies for their own behavior that will ensure a positive working environment for all students and teachers.

Practice and predict clean-up strategies before beginning the activity. Ask students to offer suggestions for ensuring that they will leave a clean and useable space for the next activity. Students may enjoy creating very specific clean-up roles. Once these are established, the same student-owned strategies can be used every time hands-on learning occurs.

Learning Targets

  • Students will be able to measure precisely with standard units
  • Students will be able to test materials for properties (strength, flexibility) and compare
  • Students will gain familiarity with the design process, including ideate, prototype, and test phases

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their makerspace journal and summarize their learning in a group discussion

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their designs and share different strategies they used for constructing carrying case. Students should also share the difficulties that they discovered building a case.

Teacher Assessment

Review student makerspace journal pages for formative assessment and discuss with individual groups as they work.

Conduct a whole group discussion to allow all students to share, discuss and compare their designs.  They should also share what criteria and constraints were especially challenging, and how they redesigned to solve any problems that arose in the testing phase.