Often people are faced with the task of arranging furniture to use the space in a room efficiently.  For the design challenge at the end of this unit, students will be asked to do exactly that in their own classroom.  To prepare for the challenge, students will be learning how to compare the sizes of different objects against each other.  They will learn about measuring different attributes, including length, width, and measuring with different units such as inches and centimeters.

 

Educational outcomes

  • Students will be able to compare measurable attributes of different objects.
  • Students will be able to compare the strengths and weaknesses of various measuring tools.

STEAM INTEGRATION

Once students have enthusiasm and curiosity towards measuring, inspired by the empathy lesson, they will explore measuring with both standard and non-standard tools.  Lesson 3 gives students the opportunity to compare objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has more or less of the attribute (K.MD.A.2).  In lesson 4, students will inspect measuring tools to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs (K-2-ETS1-3) to inform their design of a measuring tool in the design challenge.

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Unit Materials

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

Building Materials

  • Miscellaneous materials
  • Recycled items from your classroom/school

Connecting Materials

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

Measuring Tools

  • Ruler

Other

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 K-2-ETS1-3

Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.

Common Core Math K.MD.A.2

Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/”less of” the attribute, and describe the difference.

 

Suggestions for pacing and differentiation

Lesson 2: If your students have already gained experience measuring with non-standard units, you may choose to skip this lesson.  Alternatively, if you have limited time, consider eliminating the activity where students categorize classroom furniture as movable, or not.

Lesson 3: This lesson allows for students to explore more/less as described in CCSS K.MD.A.2.  If you have limited time, or will cover this at another time, consider skipping this lesson.

Design Challenge: The design challenge portion of this unit can be extended through many student iterations.  If time allows, you may choose to have student diagram different classroom arrangements, actually move the furniture, then compare the reality with the diagram specifically looking to see if the measurements were accurate.  Rearranging multiple times, building new measuring tools, and reflection upon those iterations will give students more of an opportunity to understand the concepts of this unit.

Lesson Overview

To prepare students for this unit, we’ll begin with a discussion about the real world uses of measurement.  They will be introduced to why we might measure something, and examples of measurable attributes (K.MD.A.2).

 

Essential Questions:

  • When would you need to measure something?
  • What can you measure?
  • Why are there different units of measurement?

 

LESSON PROCEDURE:

This lesson will be a discussion to get students thinking and curious about different ways people measure things.  Use the video linked in the External Resources toggle to help spark their curiosity and interest.

Student Direction

Sample teacher and student dialog

T: “Can you think of anything that you have measured, or might need to measure?”

S: My feet for new shoes, how tall I am at the doctor, ingredients for cooking…

T: “Why do we measure things?”

S: To get the right size shoes/clothes, to know how big something is, to know how much something grows/moves…

T: “What are some tools that you know about for measuring?”

S: Ruler, measuring cups…

T: “We’re going to take a look at this video about how people, and squids measure things.  As you watch think about any questions you have, or anything new you are learning about measuring.” Watch “How People (And Squids) Measure Things” from SciShowKids if you have the ability to show a youtube video in your class.

T: “A unit of measurement is something we used to say how big or small something else is.  In the video we heard about measuring lengths in inches, centimeters, miles, and kilometers.  How many units of measurement can we think of?”

S: Suggest different units of measurement.

T: Share some other interesting measuring units.  Consider tying in the history of the units.  Suggestions are in the Quick Concept Review section of this lesson.


Concept Quick Reference

Examples of measuring units:

  • Measuring a horse’s size in hands.  A hand in this context is 4 inches, and was derived from the width of a human hand, or fist.  This measurement is a base 4 system, as opposed to our base 10 system of counting.  
  • Measuring size using a foot as a measuring tool.
  • Inches are based of thumbs
  • A yard is based off a person’s stride
  • Nautical knots (speed at sea) are based off of throwing a knotted rope overboard and seeing how many knots go by in a given time.  1 knot is equal to approximately 1.15 mph.  Log lines (the knotted ropes used to measure knots) had knots about 47 feet apart, and the knots were counted for 28 seconds.

Lesson Materials

Other

External Resources

Video: How People (And Squids) Measure Things

Optional read aloud books: Me and the Measure of Things by Joan Sweeney, Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy

Teacher Notes

Consider reviewing some interesting measurements, for example, how we measure horses in hands.  This will help facilitate a conversation around why and how we measure.

To facilitate the brainstorm precess when thinking about how the class can rearrange the furniture, first sketch out your space and furniture on graph paper.

Learning Targets

  • Students will be able to identify units of measurement

Lesson Overview

This lesson will give students a chance to notice objects within their space that can be measured, and objects that can be used as measuring tools.  They will measure with various non-standard tools and compare these tools for strengths and weaknesses of how each measures (K-2-ETS1-3).

 

Essential Questions:

  • What can be measured in our classroom?
  • What objects can we use as measuring tools?
  • What makes a measuring tool useful/unhelpful?

 

LESSON PROCEDURE:

Students will first work on a diagram of the classroom to identify measurable and moveable features.  They will then try out different non-standard measuring tools to measure furniture and space in the classroom. 

Student Direction

Sample teacher and student dialog.

T: “What furniture do we have in our classroom?  What are some features you notice about our classroom?”

S: Desks, tables, chairs, bookshelves, rugs, doorways, windows…

T: “We want to rearrange our learning space.  What things can we move, and what must stay the same?”

S: We can move tables, short shelves…We can’t move the door, or the built in shelves…

T: “You are going to draw a plan of the classroom.  Each piece of furniture is going to be colored in.  One color for items that can move, another for items that stay where they are.” Depending on your class, you may want to assign these colors. 

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T: “When we are planning to rearrange our space, how do we know where things fit before we move them?”

S: Measure the space, measure the furniture

T: “How could you measure our space and furniture with another object in our space?  How could we measure with our hands?  What else could be a measuring tool?”

S: Various suggestions for measuring tools such as shoes, arms, paper, math manipulatives.  Allow students to pick objects that both work well, and won’t work well and discuss why each could be useful, or unhelpful.

T: Demonstrate how students could measure, for example, the height of a chair with an eraser.  If using a recording sheet, show them how to add their data to the recording sheet.  Note for each object or feature which dimensions students should measure (length or width).  “How will you know the length of an object that does not perfectly match the size of the measuring tool?  My chair is taller than 5 erasers, but it is shorter than 6 erasers.  What should I write?”

S: 5 and a half

T: “It is now your job to measure the space and furniture in our classroom.  Write down your measurements on your recording sheet, and try to use a different measuring tool from your classmates.”

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T: Reflect with students while looking at their data.  “What do you think of your measuring tool?  Did it work well?  Is it too big or too small for what you want to measure?  Was it easy or hard to use?”

S: Various answers depending on what students used to measure.

 

Lesson Materials

Writing Materials

  • Recording sheets from Maker Journal Pages links
  • Pencils

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

  • Consider what furniture and features you want students to measure in the classroom.  This could be the list of items you feel comfortable rearranging.  Are there any immobile items (furniture attached to the wall) that students should be aware of?
  • Consider grouping for this lesson.  Students can work to measure in pairs, small groups, or individually depending on their needs.

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.

Consider for this lesson guidelines for students’ movement.  What are the safe strategies to reach high pieces of furniture, and what should be avoided?

Learning Targets

  • Students will be able to measure in non-standard units

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their makerspace journal and summarize their learning in a group discussion.  What was a useful measuring tool, and why?

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their findings and share different methods for measuring their classroom. What was a useful measuring tool, what was unhelpful, and why?  Students should also share the difficulties that they discovered in measuring the furniture and space.

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 measuring tools.

Lesson Overview

This lesson will give students a chance to compare the lengths and widths or objects against other objects. (K.MD.A.2)

 

Essential Questions:

  • How do you know if something has more or less width or height when compared to another object?

 

LESSON PROCEDURE:

This lesson begins with a teacher led discussion and exploration, and then moves into a small group activity.

Student Direction

Sample teacher and student dialog

T: Pose some questions regarding more/less to get students thinking.  “Do we have more markers, or scissors in our class? What is the tallest piece of furniture in our room?  Who is our tallest classmate?”

S: More markers, the big bookshelf is taller…

T: “Let’s practice.  Look at the writing tools in our class.  (pencil, crayon, marker, colored pencil, etc.) Let’s arrange these by height.  Which tool has more height than the others?  Which has less?”

S: Several students demonstrate arranging writing tools by height.

T: “Now let’s arrange these by width.  What do I mean when I say width?

S: Students offer definition of width, and rearrange the writing tools.

T: “Let’s practice with some books now.  Who can help use arrange these books by height?”

S: Several students arrange books by height.

T: “Which book has more height, which has less?”  Consider repeating with width or depth as time allows, or if students need more practice.


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T: “You will now practice measuring things in our classroom to know what is bigger or smaller.  Find 3 things in the classroom to compare.  You will draw your objects in your Maker Journal page.” Demonstrating where to draw objects on a sample Maker Journal page. “What if you want to compare the door way and thebookshelf?  How will you know which one has more width without moving the bookshelf next to the door?”

S: Various suggestions.  Guide students towards the idea that they will need to measure both objects.

T: “You can use a measuring tool to measure how wide each object is, and then you can figure out which has more width.  For this, we will use pieces of string.  Hold one end at the edge of what you are measuring, and see how far along the string that object reaches.” Demonstrate measuring something immobile with a string.


T: “Look at your Maker Journal page.  Is the tallest object also the widest?”

S: Various answers depending on student work.

 

 

Lesson Materials

String

  • 1 yard segments (approximately)
  • Enough segments for each group of 3-4 students
  • Optional if you ask students to only measure items that can be compared directly

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

Consider gathering items to demonstrate a comparison of lengths.  For example, 4-5 different writing implements, and a collection of different sized books.

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.

As this lesson is asking students to compare attributes, it presents a perfect opportunity to coach student in language that will not be construed as hurtful.

Learning Targets

  • Students will be able to compare multiple objects and determine what has more length, and what has less.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their makerspace journal and share their measurements in a group discussion

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their measurements and share different objects they used to measure. Students should also share the difficulties that they discovered in using various objects as measuring tools.

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 measuring their space, and objects in their space.  Have students define, in their own words, what is more and what is less.

Lesson Overview

This lesson will help students identify the strengths and weaknesses of various tools (K-2-ETS1-3) used for measuring. 

 

Essential Questions:

  • How do measuring tools differ?
  • What about a measuring tool could be a weakness or a strength in measuring?

 

LESSON PROCEDURE:

This lesson will begin with a guided discovery, followed by an activity for students to practice working with various measuring tools.

Student Direction

Sample teacher and student dialog

T: “Look closely at these measuring tools.  What do you notice?”

S: Various observations such as, the tools shape, color, number & words on the tool.

T: “Think about what you’ve noticed.  Do you think this would be easy to measure something with (provide a concrete example: could you measure your head with this?) or would it be hard to use?  Why?”

S: It is bendy so it could measure round things.  It is not long enough to measure big things…

T: “What things could you measure with a flexible measuring tool?  What would be hard to measure with a flexible tool?”

S: balls, circular rug edge…

T: “What about a shoe (any non-standard measuring tool) could be a weakness or a strength in measuring?  Why might it be useful or unhelpful?”

S: it would be hard to measure something round, or very big…

T: “Choose some things in the class you could use to measure with.  Some examples are paperclips, pencils, or math manipulatives.  Use your Maker Journal page to record measurements and things you notice about your tools.” (walk through a demo showing the Maker Journal page)

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Lesson Materials

Measuring tools

  • A variety of measuring tools.  Ruler, yardstick, tape measure, measuring tape…

Maker Journal Pages

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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 determine strengths or weaknesses of a given measuring tool in the context of measuring a specific object.

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 strengths and weaknesses of measuring tools that they discover. Students should also share the difficulties that they found in using certain measuring tools, and what worked well.

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 strengths and weaknesses of different measuring tools. Students should also share measurements when measuring the same objects to asses tools for accuracy, or problem solve any human error in measuring.

Introduce the Design Challenge

Sample student & Teacher Dialog. 

T: You have been tasked to arrange furniture in a room.  You want the furniture to be arranged in such a way that it takes up the least amount of space.  However, you have no measuring tool.  How can you optimize the layout of the furniture without a formal measuring tool?

S: Try moving things around.  Make a measuring tool. Etc.

T: “What is an option where we will not get in each others way as we work?  If I try moving that shelf, but someone needs to move it to a new space, we can not both try that at the same time.”

S: We have to measure first.

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)
  • You must be able to measure the classroom space, including length and width.
  • You must be able to measure the length and width of furniture in the room. (chairs, tables, shelves)
  • You may not use a standard measuring tool (ruler, yardstick..)

 

Ideate
Students will be designing their own measuring tool.  They will sketch out their idea on a Maker Journal page. (Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as they iterate)

Student Directions

T: “Think about a useful tool you could make to measure our classroom and our classroom furniture.  How big should it be?  What types of materials will work well?”

S: Various ideas about size, shape, and material based on learnings from previous lessons.

T: “Draw your ideas.”

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Prototype

Students will build measuring tools.  They should be sharing ideas and helping each other during this process.  They will also need to continuously improve their design as need, or opportunity arises. (Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as they iterate)

Student Directions

T: “You will now build your design of a measuring tool.  Help your classmates, and share ideas that work well.  What should you do if your design is not working?”

S: Ask for help, try again, change the design.

T: Review any necessary safety rules depending on tools students may have access to.  Review signals to stop, clean up, or come back together to start the Test phase.

S: Working independently, or in small groups will build tools for measuring.

 

Test your Design

To help students test effectively, you may want to do this phase as a whole group.   

Student Directions

T: “Let’s try measuring 3 different things with our new measuring tools.  We’re going to measure the length of the room, the height of the tallest movable object in our room, and the width of a chair.” Measure whatever is most relevant to your space.  You will find 2 maker journal pages attached, one with the recommended measurements above, and one that is blank for you to fill in.

S: During directions, have a student point out all the objects/spaces to be measured to clarify for the whole group.

T: “Record your measurements in the Maker Journal page, and we will share them as a group.”

Recording chart with suggestions:dl-student

Blank recording chart:dl-student


T: “Now that we all have measurements, let’s compare to see if our tools gave us useful measurements.  What measurements did you get?” Think, pair, share here would allow for students to all engage in sharing.

S: Sharing out various measurements they have taken.

T: “Can someone else use your tool and get the same measurement?  Can someone else tell how big the room is by reading your measurements?”

S: Yes/no.  Discussing differences in measurements they took.

T: “Let’s mark on our Maker Journal pages what measurements were useful.  These will be measurements that someone can use to tell how big something is.”

S: Sharing out successes and difficulties when measuring, and sharing those measurements with classmates.

T: Depending on time, you may have students diagram a new classroom layout, including their measurements.  This could be whole group, or in small groups.  Move the furniture (if safe) to test the accuracy of those measurements.  Reflect and iterate as time allows.  

Reflection page:dl-student

 

Design Challenge Materials

Building Materials

Connecting Materials

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

Measuring Tools

  • Ruler, tape measure, yardstick, etc.

 

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

It may be useful to create a diagram of the classroom space to facilitate the class discussion.

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 compare measurable attributes of multiple objects.
  • Students will be able to compare strengths and weaknesses of measuring tools.

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 measurements, as well as different ideas for reordering the classroom.

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 useful measuring tools, and widths and heights of objects within the space. Students should also share about any difficulties they faced while working to take accurate measurements.