Students will create and use a model that can transport fresh water over long distances with no human contact in between locations, design a water transportation model to scale, test it to ensure success, and then show and explain how it works. Students iterate and record data as they improve their designs.

Educational Outcomes:

  • Student teams will research, write and understand why it is important to have access to fresh water.
  • Students will investigate, compare, and explain different methods used in the real-world for transporting fresh water.
  • Students will learn to measure volume.
  • Students will use the engineering design process to solve a problem.

STEAM Integration:

In the empathy phase students conduct a short research project to better understand the importance of freshwater and the problems in transporting it (W.5.7). During the define phase students explore spatial structuring in three dimensions through an exploration of volume. They recognize volume as an attribute of solid figures and understand that units are used to measure it (5.MD.C.3). Students also explore the steps in the design process and understand how to work with criteria and constraints. (NGSS Middle School Engineering)

Unit Materials

This unit can be completed using RAFT’s Makerspace-in-a-box kit 
or a variety of reusable materials such as:
Building material
  • tubing
  • hoses
  • straws
  • cardboard sheets
  • foam
  • paper
  • cardboard tubes
  • cups
  • craft sticks
Connectors/ Adhesives
  • binder clips
  • paper clips
  • stickers
  • mailing labels
  • tape
  • glue
  • velcro
  • string
  • rubber bands
Other materials
  • Internet access helpful (not required)
  • Curated selection of books around drought, water and it’s importance, engineering and design, problem solving, volume, measurement, data and sharing data.
  • Set of measuring containers (cups, graduated cylinder, etc.)

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 Middle School Engineering:
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Common Core Math 5.MD.C3
Recognize volume as an attribute of solid figures and understand concepts of volume measurement.
Common Core Writing W.5.7 – Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

 

Suggestions for Pacing and Differentiation:
If pacing is a challenge, consider modifying the unit by omitting define phase activities that students have already demonstrated proficiency.

Essential Questions:

  • What is freshwater? Why is it important?
  • How can we find the answers to the questions?
  • How can we ask the right questions to find the best answers?

Lesson Procedure:

Student directions

dl-student

T: Show students images of drought to towns. You may want to select images from a Google Image search on the topic. “How could we transport water to areas like these?”

S: (Various suggestions, encourage creativity)

T: “We are going to conduct a short research project, inquiring about the importance of freshwater and the various methods for transporting fresh water. Let’s think of ways that we could look for this information.”

S: “Internet search, wikipedia, image search, google maps, maps in our library, resource are of the library.”

T: “I have also selected a few books from our classroom library for you to use.”

(Review strategies for quality internet search time. Ask students to give suggestions for ways to determine if their time is being used efficiently while searching the internet.)

“Use your maker journal page to record your findings.”

Lesson Materials

Access to internet search tools

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

Concept Quick Reference

Freshwater is essential for life. Plants, animals, and humans all need freshwater to survive. We use fresh water for drinking water, to irrigate crops, as part of sanitation systems, and in industrial factories, to name a few. Water used up from groundwater, rivers and lakes is replenished by rain and snowfall.
About 70 percent of Earth’s surface is covered in water. Of all the water on Earth 97 percent is in the oceans. That only leaves 3 percent as freshwater. Of that small amount of freshwater almost 2 percent is locked up in glaciers and ice at the North and South poles. The remaining 1 percent of freshwater is mostly groundwater, with a small fraction filling the world’s lakes and rivers.

Teacher Notes

Consider selecting a few images of uses of water, drought, and results of the water crisis. Model good techniques for safe quality internet searches. Consider pre-selecting sites that yield quality information for this topic.

Learning Targets

Students will be able to conduct a short research project that use several sources to build knowledge about the need for and problems with freshwater transportation
Students will use this understanding to design more effective models of freshwater transportation

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 critical uses for water and methods of freshwater transportation that they discover in their research. Students should also share the difficulties that they discovered in transporting freshwater.

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 critical uses for water and methods of freshwater transportation that they discovered in their research. Students should also share about the difficulties in transporting freshwater.

Essential Questions:

  • What steps can we take to solve a problem?
  • How can we understand a problem well enough to solve it?
  • How can multiple attempts help us become more successful?

Lesson Procedure:

Student directions

dl-studentT: (Show video: What is design thinking? or discuss the steps in the process with your students. “What steps have we taken so far to understand the problems of transporting fresh water?”

S: “Research the problem, ask good questions, collect data; develop our understanding of the importance of water, learn to measure water properly.”

T: “We have completed the EMPATHY and DEFINE phases of the design thinking process. Now we will begin the IDEATE  phase in which we will brainstorm ideas, choose one and build a PROTOTYPE. If our prototype can successfully transport enough water, we will have solved the problem. If it fails to transport the water, we will record data and modify our prototype until it successfully transports enough water. This is the TESTING phase. Today we will practice using these steps to design a solution to a simple problem that has a few criteria for success and constraints that will limit the scope of the problem.

Use your maker journal to follow the steps in the design thinking process to design a gift for your team.”

Lesson Materials

This unit can be completed using RAFT’s Makerspace-in-a-box kit 
or a variety of reusable materials such as:
Building material
  • tubing
  • hoses
  • straws
  • cardboard sheets
  • foam
  • paper
  • cardboard tubes
  • cups
  • craft sticks
Connectors/ Adhesives
  • binder clips
  • paper clips
  • stickers
  • mailing labels
  • tape
  • glue
  • velcro
  • string
  • rubber bands

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

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.

Concept Quick Reference

design-thinking-infographic
EMPATHISE
Understanding is the first phase of the design thinking process. During this phase, students immerse themselves in learning. They talk to experts and conduct research. The goal is to develop background knowledge through these experiences. They use their developing understandings as a springboard as they begin to address design challenges.
DEFINE
In this phase of design thinking, students the focus is on becoming aware of peoples’ needs and developing insights.
IDEATE
Ideating is a critical component of design thinking. Students are challenged to brainstorm a myriad of ideas and to suspend judgment. No idea is to far-fetched and no one’s ideas are rejected. Ideating is all about creativity and fun. In the ideation phase, quantity is encouraged. Students may be asked to generate a hundred ideas in a single session. They become silly, savvy, risk takers, wishful thinkers and dreamers of the impossible…and the possible.
PROTOTYPE
Prototyping is a rough and rapid portion of the design process. A prototype can be a sketch, model, or a cardboard box. It is a way to convey an idea quickly. Students learn that it is better to fail early and often as they create prototypes.
TEST
Testing is part of an iterative process that provides students with feedback. The purpose of testing is to learn what works and what doesn’t, and then iterate. This means going back to your prototype and modifying it based on feedback. Testing ensures that students learn what works and what doesn’t work for their users.

Teacher Notes

Consider a video on design thinking:

Video: What is Design Thinking?

Learning Targets

Students continue to learn to ask questions in order to define a simple design problem within specified criteria and constraints.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

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

Peer Assessment

Student groups compare their models and give each other feedback on whether or not they met the criteria and constraints. Suggest the “I like, I wish, I wonder…” model from Standford’s d.school. “I like” for successful execution of criteria and constraints, “I wish” for constructive feedback and “I wonder” for innovative ideas.

Teacher Assessment

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

Essential Questions:

  • How can we measure the total amount of space an object occupies?
  • Why do we create and count in units?
  • How will we measure volume?

Lesson Procedure:

Student directions

dl-student

T: Draw a square on your graph paper roughly the size of four of your objects. (ause to allow students to execute. Four marbles should = 4×4 cm, four cotton balls should be around 8×8 cm, etc.)

T: Place four objects on the square you traced. These will be the foundation for our building. Place four more objects directly on top of that square. (Pause to allow students to execute.)

T: Think of the first four objects as the ground floor of the building. Make a second floor by putting another four objects on top of them. (Pause to allow students to execute.)

T: How many objects are there now?

S: Eight objects.

T: What is the total area of the two floors of our building.

S: Eight objects.

T: (Repeat the above for three layers and 12 units.) “Now, investigate the volume of objects in your lab by building them with groups of the same materials. Follow the example in your maker journal page.”

 

Lesson Materials

  • Graph paper

Multiple groups of the same item:

  • groups of pencils
  • marbles
  • cotton balls
  • wooden cubes
  • packing peanuts
  • ping ping balls
  • erasers
  • paper clips
  • staples

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

Concept Quick Reference

  • Volume is the amount of space that a substance or object occupies. The volume of water or other liquids can be measured with measuring cups or a graduated cylinder.
  • One milliliter (1 mL) of water has a volume of 1 cubic centimeter (1cm3).

Teacher Notes

Consider curating a selection of groups of different materials in separate containers before students begin to make selection of appropriate materials easier. Student groups may enjoy setting this up beforehand as well.

Learning Targets

Recognize volume as an attribute of solid figures. Construct this understanding by building layer upon layer.

Counting three dimensional objects to build understanding around the concept of volume measurement.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

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

Peer Assessment

Student groups compare their makerspace journals with other groups and give each other feedback.

Teacher Assessment

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

Essential Questions:

  • How will we measure volume in ways that everyone can understand?

Lesson Procedure:

Student directions

dl-student

T: “What tools are used for measuring the amount of water that is occupying a space?”

S: “graduated cylinder, measuring cups, milk jug, etc.”

T: “Use the standard measuring tools in your lab to measure an amount of water or objects placed inside. Record your findings in your maker journal. Share your results with another team and discuss the techniques or challenges you had while measuring water in standard containers.”

Lesson Materials

Set of measuring containers (cups, graduated cylinder, etc.)

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

Concept Quick Reference

When measuring in some containers, the surface of the water may curve in a shallow U-shape called the meniscus. When measuring, read the line just at the bottom of the meniscus.

Teacher Notes

  1. Consider curating a selection of measuring tools (measuring cups, graduated cylinders, etc.) or direct students to the area of the lab where these items are stored.
  2. Consider demonstrating what students will do by pouring water from a cup into a 100-mL graduated cylinder and asking a volunteer to read the measurement in the correct units.
  3. Tell students that the surface of water in a tube may not be completely flat. Instead, the surface may curve in a shallow U-shape called the meniscus. When measuring, read the line just at the bottom of the meniscus.

Learning Targets

Understand concepts of volume measurement.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

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

Peer Assessment

Student groups compare their makerspace journals with other groups and give each other feedback

Teacher Assessment

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

Introduce the Design Challenge

Provide criteria and constraints or develop them with students.

T: In the empathy phase of this unit, your group researched the needs for freshwater and the challenges in transporting fresh water to areas that otherwise do not have access to fresh water. Your group should decide on one real world scenario (e.g, transport water to remote California farms, transport water on a moon colony) to model. You will create a working model of a freshwater transport system that can transport 5 liters of freshwater over a distance of 3 meters (Note: these values are given as an example. Adjust the distance and volume to suit your classroom). Your model should accurately represent the geography of the real world scenario that you have chosen.

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)
  • ____ amount of water must be transported through the system. (Set an amount with your students. This is a useful way to differentiate for your class.)
  • Water must be transported without assistance from humans.
  • Model must be built with materials provided
  • Model must be completed and tested in the given time
  • Model must include  ___   different materials in addition to fasteners and/or adhesives (increase this number for added constraint, decrease for less constraints.)
  • Each team has investigated different methods used in the real-world for transporting fresh water. Team members should decide on one real world scenario (e.g, transport water to remote California farms, transport water on a moon colony) to model.
  • Data must be collected and recorded in between each test of the model. Students record the amount of water successfully transported, before making changes to the design.

 

Ideate Phase: Student Directions

dl-studentNow that students have begun to understand the problem and explored the skills that they will need to complete the challenge, they will use the design thinking process to create a model for successful freshwater transportation.

 

  • With your team, state what it is you need to do (State the problem).
  • Decide on a scenario in which your water transportation method would work.
  • Discuss, draw and list possible solutions to making a scale model device that can transport water over that long distance according to the challenge’s criteria.  At this stage it is important to consider all ideas and invite every member of the group. Choose the solution the team thinks is best

 

Prototype Phase: Student Directions

  • Experiment with the chosen materials as a team and create a few versions of your item that suit the criteria for this design challenge.
  • Keep a record of all conditions met, and be prepared to explain your reasoning. Choose the best version to test.
  • Remember to consider the criteria and use the checklist to evaluate the design.

 

Test Your Design: Student Directions

  • Try out your model — can it transport water over a long distance with no human contact from the start to the ending location?
  • Measure and record the amount of water successfully transported through your prototype.
  • Create a chart (later you will create a line graph
  • Can each team member list at least 3 reasons for why it is important to have access to fresh water?

 

 

Design Challenge Materials

This unit can be completed using RAFT’s Makerspace-in-a-box kit 
or a variety of reusable materials such as:
Building material
  • tubing
  • hoses
  • straws
  • cardboard sheets
  • foam
  • paper
  • cardboard tubes
  • cups
  • craft sticks
Connectors/ Adhesives
  • binder clips
  • paper clips
  • stickers
  • mailing labels
  • tape
  • glue
  • velcro
  • string
  • rubber bands

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

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.

Quick Concept Reference

Design thinking phases:

Empathize: Identify the problem and  the criteria and constraints. Try to connect with the problem deeply and personally.

Ideate: Brainstorm possible solutions, generate ideas and explore possibilities

Protoype: Select an an idea to explore from the ideate phase and build a model or prototype

Test: Refine the design

Teacher Notes

Choose an appropriate amount of water for teams to attempt to transport successfully as well as the required distance that the water must travel.
Consider asking students to scale their models to the corresponding real-world scenario that they have chosen if students need an additional challenge and need additional practice in ratios and proportion.

Learning Targets

Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on the design.
Understand concepts of volume measurement.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

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

Peer Assessment

Student groups compare their models and give each other feedback on whether or not they met the criteria and constraints. Suggest the “I like, I wish, I wonder…” model from Standford’s d.school. “I like” for successful execution of criteria and constraints, “I wish” for constructive feedback and “I wonder” for innovative ideas.

Teacher Assessment

Review student makerspace journal pages to determine if critera and constraints were successfully met and ensure that data was collected before iterating. Observe groups as the work and give prompts if students need reminders around recording their data. Discuss the process with individual groups as they work. Conduct a gallery walk with students to determine if performance expectations were met.