Unit Overview:

Ever wonder why some things are made from the materials the way they are? In this unit, students will plan and conduct an investigation to interpret the usefulness of materials based on their observable characteristics and properties. Student teams will classify and sort upcycled materials, communicate their reasoning for their arrangements, and be able to demonstrate their understanding of observable properties and suitable uses for the materials (observations could include color, texture, hardness, and flexibility. Patterns could include the similar properties that different materials share). Within the criteria and constraints of the unit, in the Design Challenge students will create a sign from well-curated materials to communicate a school based need.

Educational Outcomes:

  • Students will identify with different kinds of materials that have different properties.
  • Students will describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.
  • Student teams will collaboratively develop an investigation plan and collect evidence including the properties of materials (e.g., color, texture, hardness, flexibility) of the materials that would allow for classification.
  • Students will describe evidence about the properties of different kinds of materials and that observable patterns in the properties of materials provide evidence to classify the different kinds of materials.
  • Student teams will decide how the properties of the materials will be determined, and how the materials will be classified (i.e., sorted).
  • Student teams will collaboratively collect and record data on Maker Journal Pages to communicate about the properties of the materials.

STEAM INTEGRATION

In the empathy phase of lesson 1, students investigate and sort up-cycled materials into groupings of their own choosing and think of applications for those materials based on their properties. (NGSS 2-PS1-1) In the define phase of lesson 2 student teams communicate their material arrangements to each other and the reasoning behind their groupings. (MATH.2.MD.D.10) The define phase of lesson 3 demonstrates student further understanding of observable properties such as waterproof, durability of the materials under weather conditions and environmental factors. (ELA.W.2.8, NGSS 2-PS1-1) All these lessons are taken into consideration in the final Design Challenge (Ideate, Prototype, and Test phases) of lesson 4 where student teams design a sign made from well-curated materials to communicate a school based need. (NGSS 2-PS1-2)

Click on the “+” icon to open each section

Unit Materials

  • RAFT Makerspace-in-a-box
    • Various adhesives, connectors, and fasteners (e.g., paperclips, binder clips, thread, yarn, adhesive foam pads, wooden stir sticks, straws, spoons, pipettes, labels & stickers, rubber bands, etc.)
    • Materials (e.g., laminate samples, dust covers, foam pieces, deli containers, fishboard, cardboard tubes, plascore scraps, posters, shower caps, scrap materials, cards, etc.)
  • Tape, glue, scissors, measuring devices, timer
  • Recording materials: RAFT MakerJournal Pages (for each lesson)

Maker Journal Pages

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/

Lesson Overview

Lesson 1: EMPATHY:  Classifying materials

Students investigate different ways to classifying different materials by sorting upcycled materials into groupings of their own choosing.

Essential Questions:

  • In what ways can you sort materials?
  • Why is it helpful to sort materials?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

Students will work in small groups to sort materials.  They will record their strategies for sorting in their maker journal page, and share out reflections at the end of the lesson.

Sample Student Directions (Click + to open)

Sample Teacher and Student dialog

T:We will be using our makerspace” (maker supplies/STEAM/Fab Lab/School specific lingo) “to work on projects.  Before we can start a new project, we need to organize our materials.  How can we sort different materials?”

S: “We can put all the big pieces in a big bin, sort all the red things together, sort all the sticky things together like tape and glue”…(guiding students to identify characteristics to sort by will help them in their next steps)

T: Passing out boxes of mixed material to each small group of students “Take a look at the materials in your boxes.  Working as a team, sort your materials in a way that you notice will be useful.”

S: Students work together sorting materials into various piles/containers.

T: Move to each group while they work to check in, and share the MakerJournal Page “As you agree upon your method for sorting, start filling in your MakerJournal Page.”


Concept Quick Reference (Click + to open)

Student Vocabulary:

Classification is the process of putting something into a category. Classification of all your clothes by color may make it easier for you to put together an outfit, especially if you favor a monochrome (1 color only) look.

From NGSS:

Regarding the classification of different materials;  [Clarification Statement: Observations could include color, texture, hardness, and flexibility. Patterns could include the similar properties that different materials share.]

Lesson Materials

Boxes of materials (unorganized)

  • Minimum: 1 per small group of students

Optional: Containers for sorting materials

  • Cups, boxes, bins, taped out areas on floor/butcher paper…

 

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

Consider the best way to group students prior to the lesson.

  • Small groups of 3-5
  • Pre-sorted, or will students self-select?

Consider adapting some of your students new sorting methods to your current materials organization.  This provides a nice opportunity for student ownership of their learning space.

Active Classroom

Students will and should get noisy as they discuss the best means to sort their materials.  Have a practiced way to let students know when their time for the activity is running low.

 

Learning Targets

  • Students will be able to plan and conduct an investigation
  • Students will describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties

Assessment

Student Self and Peer Assessment

Student groups review their MakerJournal page and summarize their learning in a group discussion

 

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 for how best to sort materials. Students should also share about the difficulties in sorting some materials.

Essential Questions:

  • How can we measure the amount of each material?
  • How can we record data for sorted material?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

This lesson asks students to sort materials for a specific purpose; a game or build activity.  However, the focus of the lesson is on sorting as well as practice creating and reading bar graphs.

  1. Introduce students to the bar graph, and the purpose of their sorting activity
  2. Students sort materials
  3. Students fill in the bar graph, and analyze their data
  4. Play a quick game or build activity (can be one below, or your choosing)
    • Game: All students have the same materials.  Students pair up, 1 facing away from teacher.  Teacher creates a model with the materials.  The Student facing away must recreate the model with the help of their partner (who can look).  Repeat with different constraints: must be done silently, eyes closed, mirrored orientation…
    • Build Activity: All students have the same materials.  Working with your group make a class mascot in 5-10 minutes.  Vote on the class favorite before dismantling the quick builds and cleaning up.

Sample Student Directions (Click + to open)

Sample Teacher and Student dialog

T: “We are going to build an object (optionally: play a game) where everyone in the class uses the same exact materials, and the same amount of each material.  How will we choose what materials to use?”

S: “Let’s count everything, sort the material…”

T: “Great, we will need to both sort materials and count each material to know what materials we can use with the whole class.  Let’s look at an example chart.”  Show students an example bar graph: Lesson 2 example MakerJournal Page “What do you notice?  Which materials should we use for the whole class?”

S: “There are different blocks colored in over each picture, there are numbers up the left side, there are lots of bottle caps and paperclips…”

T: Highlight any essential parts of the bar graphs that students may not have already noticed.  “Everyone will work in a small group to sort some materials and fill in your own bar graphs.”

 


Concept Quick Reference (Click + to open)

Bar Graph: A tool to display data with bars of different heights or lengths.  More examples here.

Lesson Materials

Boxes of materials (unorganized)

  • Minimum: 1 per small group of students
  • Each box should have 5 unique items to sort
  • Ideally the items should exist in quantities of between 5 and 50
    • Alternately, adjust the numbers on the student bar graph found in the MakerJournal Page

Maker Journal Pages

Teacher Notes

Consider the best way to group students prior to the lesson.

  • Small groups of 3-5
  • Pre-sorted, or will students self-select?

Active Classroom

Students will and should get noisy as they discuss the best means to sort their materials.  Have a practiced way to let students know when their time for the activity is running low.

Learning Targets

  • Students will draw a bar graph to represent a data set
  • Students will solve simple compare problems using information presented in a bar graph

Assessment

Student Self and Peer Assessment

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

Students should also share the difficulties that they discovered in creating bar graphs.

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 how and why they might use a bar graph, as well as challenges and successes in sorting materials in a useful manner.

Essential Questions:

  • What material would be best for making a sign to display outside?
  • How can you test the durability of a material?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

Sample Student Directions (Click + to open)

Sample Teacher and Student dialog

T: “We are going to make signs to display around our school.  For example, if we need to post a sign outside with ideas for recess games, what might happen to that sign being outside?  What weather conditions exist outside?”

S: “It might get blown in the wind, rained on, the sun will shine on it…”

T: “Keeping in mind the conditions for an outside sign, what material would you use to make the sign?  What are the properties of that material?”

S: “A giant plastic sheet.”

T: “What is it about a plastic sheet, compared to paper, that would be useful for an outside sign?”

S: “It’s waterproof!”

T: “I see, so we would need a waterproof material.  What other properties would this material need?”

S: “It would need to be heavy so it doesn’t blow away.  It should be huge so everyone can read it…”

T: “How will we know if a material is waterproof, or heavy enough?”

S: “We can splash water on it, weigh it…”

T: “Yes, let’s create some tests to gauge how waterproof a material is, or wind or sun proof, or how durable.  In your group, you will test a material for 3 different properties.”


Concept Quick Reference (Click + to open)

From NGSS:

[Clarification Statement: Examples of properties could include, strength, flexibility, hardness, texture, and absorbency.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment of quantitative measurements is limited to length.]

Lesson Materials

Various materials as available in your school makerspace (or similar)

  • Poster board, cardboard, paper…
  • Markers, crayons, pencils, pens…
  • Tape, string, staples…
  • Foam, cups, crafts sticks, straws…

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

Teacher Notes

Consider the best way to group students prior to the lesson.

  • Small groups of 3-5
  • Pre-sorted, or will students self-select?

Active Classroom

Students may need to use different spaces and resources for this activity, including fans, and water if available.  Have students predict some helpful strategies to avoid excess mess, and to use the resources collaboratively.

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.

Learning Targets

“Unpacked” components of the standard. (bullet format)
  • Students will plan and conduct and investigation
  • Students will analyze data obtained from testing different materials
  • Students will determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose

Assessment

Student Self and Peer Assessment

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

Students should also share the difficulties that they discovered in testing materials.

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 tests students tried.  What worked, what didn’t?  Students should also share about the difficulties in testing materials.

Design Challenge Overview

Create a sign from well-curated materials to communicate a need to your school community.

Essential Questions:

  • What types of materials make for good outdoor signs?
  • What signs could make our school better/solve a problem?
  • Students create safety signs using the most durable and long lasting materials, and record and present their observations.

LESSON PROCEDURE

Introduce the Design Challenge (Click + to open)

Sample Teacher and Student dialog

T: “We’ve been learning about the different materials we have to use in creating signs for our school.  Now we are going to take a walk around our school to notice what problems we could address with a sign, and what materials that sign might need.  To help us plan our walk, what are some places in the school where you notice an issue?”

S: “Trash around the barrels (not in them), not enough to do at recess, unkind words in the cafeteria.”

T: “What are some messaged that we could post to solve each problem?”

S: “We could make a bullseye around the trash, a sign of recess game ideas, and a sign with funny jokes so people are happy and don’t say unkind things.”

T: “Take a pencil and notebook with you to take notes on our walk.  Think about where a sign would go.  If it needs to be waterproof, or circular, or 3 feet long.  Also think about the message you want to create.  To help you, let’s take a look at our criteria and constraints for this design challenge.”

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)
  • Sign must have a helpful message
  • Sign must last as long as possible
  • Sign can be hung in appropriate place
  • Sign must be built with materials provided
  • Sign must be completed and tested in the given time
  • Sign must use 3 materials

 


Ideate
Students will create sketches of their signs with specific materials labeled. (Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as they iterate)

Ideate: Sample Student Directions (Click + to open)

Sample Teacher and Student dialog

T: “Before we create our signs, we’re going to take some time for our ideas.  To get us started let’s take a look at a ‘Guide to Making Signs'” (Talk through the 9 slides linked here

T: Let’s start with a think-pair-share.  Everyone will think about their sign design and sketch out ideas for 5 minutes.  We will then share those ideas with a partner or small group, and finally share with the whole group.  Remember sharing ideas is inspiring, not cheating.”

S: Students share out ideas from their sketches.

T: “Each group” (3-5 students) “will now make a sketch with ideas for the sign they will create together.  Remember to include details like size and materials you will use.”


Prototype

Students will test materials, and create sample signs.  Signs may be partial to allow for quicker testing. (Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as they iterate)

Prototype: Sample Student Directions (Click + to open)

Sample Teacher and Student dialog

T: “Working together as a group, you will now create your sign prototype.  Remember that we will test its durability, and make design changes, so be prepared to notice things you would like to improve in your next version of your sign.  As you create, you can go back to your sketch and make changes.”

S: “What if our first sign is super durable?”

T: “Consider the overall look of your sign.  Can it more effectively display your message?  Is it the right size?  Could you make multiple signs?”


Test your Design

Students will test their designs for things like visibility from a distance, water resistance, and if it will hang up with rigidity. (Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as they iterate) 

Test: Sample Student Directions (Click + to open)

Sample Teacher and Student dialog

T: “Now that you have a prototype design, you will need to test it for visibility from a distance, water/wind resistance if it’s outside, and if it will hang safely and with rigidity.  How could you test these things?”

S: “We could splash water on it, put it in front of the fan for 5 minutes, hold it up at the end of the hallway and try to read it, hang it up to see if it flops around.”

T: “With each test, you will record your results in your MakerJournal page.  Take notes that will help you make a better sign.  For example, if you couldn’t read the sign from far away, how much bigger do you think the letters should be?”

S: What if it passes all the tests?

T: Take notes on what went really well, and what could still be improved.  Maybe your sign was super water proof, and didn’t blow around, but it was very heavy, and hard to hang up in the first place.

 

 

Concept Quick Reference (Click + to open)

A helpful mindset: Teacher Facipulation

This is the art of finding that balance between facilitating student ideas and manipulating student ideas.  If students are putting a great deal of energy and work into an idea that may be steering them away from the goals of this design, that is a perfect opportunity to step in as a teacher and strongly guide them back to a productive path.  For example, if a student group proposes that they weld together a metal sign, a teacher could remind students that the school does not have those facilities, but their idea for using metal due to its durability makes sense.   Have they considered the merits of foil, or can they research other ways of connecting metals that doesn’t involve machinery, such as pipe fittings?

Design Challenge Materials

Various materials as available in your school makerspace (or similar)

  • Poster board, cardboard, paper…
  • Markers, crayons, pencils, pens…
  • Tape, string, staples…
  • Foam, cups, crafts sticks, straws…

Maker Journal Pages

Observation Notes:

dl-student

 

 

Ideate:
dl-student

 

Test:

dl-student

Teacher Notes

Consider the best way to group students prior to the lesson.

  • Small groups of 3-5
  • Pre-sorted, or will students self-select?

The thinkpairshare strategy suggested in the student direction sections is a collaborative learning strategy in which students work together to solve a problem or answer a question. This technique requires students to (1) think individually about a topic or answer to a question, (2) pair with another student to begin thinking critically about their ideas as well as discovering another student’s perspective and reasoning on the same question; and then (3) share ideas via  a whole class discussion usually moderated by the teacher.

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.

Learning Targets

  • Students will analyze data obtained from testing different materials
  • Students will determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose
  • Students will gather information to answer a question
  • Students will reason abstractly and quantitatively

Assessment

Student Self and Peer Assessments

Student groups discuss and compare their findings and share different material needs and qualities depending on location of their sign. Students should also share the difficulties that they discovered in designing signs.

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 material qualities, and how they tested for durability in various ways. Students should also share about the difficulties in creating a functional and lasting sign that will make an impression on the community.