In this unit, students take on the role of engineers and engage in the design process to design, build, and test a physical model for crossing a crevasse to keep mountain climbers, researchers, and snow sport enthusiasts safe.  Lesson One helps students develop empathy around the danger a crevasse poses for those who travel across snowy terrain and teaches how the danger is currently addressed.  Lesson Two teaches brainstorming skills that will be applied later during the design challenge, where students come up with new ideas for crossing a crevasse.  In Lesson Three, students build a structure from straws and connectors to learn about variables, failure points, and conducting fair test on a design solution.  Lesson Four is the design challenge where students brainstorm ideas, create and test a prototype model, and then refine the design according to a set of criteria and constraints.

tech-challenge-logo

Educational outcomes

  • Students will use videos and printed information to answer discussion questions and create an informational text piece
  • Students will learn and practice effective brainstorming skills
  • Student teams will build a structure and identify variables and failure points that affect its structural integrity
  • Student teams will iterate and test their designs until they meet the defined criteria and constraints

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STEAM INTEGRATION

In the empathy phase students write informational texts to examine ways of preventing people from falling into a crevasse (W.3.2).  During the define phase students build a simple structure and consider its failure points and variables to identify aspects that can be improved (3-5-ETS1-3).  Students also learn the how to effectively generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem via brainstorming based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem (3-5-ETS1-2).  During the design challenge students engage in the steps of the design process to generate, compare, and test a solution against criteria and constraints (3-5-ETS1-2)(3-5-ETS1-3).  Then they write a informational text piece on preventing a fall into a crevasse using descriptive details and clear event sequences obtained during the design process (W.3.2).

Click on the “+” icon to open each section

Unit Materials

  • Tech Challenge Kit
  • Internet access
  • Computers and/or mobile devices
  • Sticky Notes
  • Flip chart or whiteboard
  • Markers
  • Straws
  • Scissors

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 Engineering 3-5-ETS1-2

Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

NGSS Engineering 3-5-ETS1-3

Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

Common Core Writing W.3.2

Write informative texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

Suggestions for pacing and differentiation

Lesson 2 can be used to focus student learning on teamwork and building on the ideas of others through brainstorming.  Encourage more iteration during the design challenge by using scenario cards that describe specific changes to the design problem and/or criteria & constraints

Lesson Overview

Students will learn about the dangers posed by hidden crevasses and the specific types of equipment used by mountain climbers to safely travel through snow and ice.  They will develop empathy around the need to use tools and equipment strategically in order to safely cross crevasses and other obstacles on a mountain.  Students will use this information to create an informational text describing why a new bridge-like solution is needed to help minimize the danger associated with current methods for crossing crevasses (W.3.2).

Essential Questions:

  • What is a crevasse?  Why are they dangerous?
  • What types of equipment can be used to safely cross a crevasse?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

Accessing & Building Prior Knowledge

  1. Ask students to think about a time when they got hurt by something they could not see.  It could be something hidden on the ground, a hanging object, or other hazard.  Give them 1-2 minutes to think about it, then have them find a partner.  Pairs discuss and share their experiences for 2 minutes.  Call on a few pairs to share their discussions with the whole class.
  2. Ask students, “What are some dangers that mountain climbers need to be aware of while climbing up (ascending) and going down (descending) a mountain?”  Lead students to thinking about dangers that might exist under the snow or ice, hidden from view.  Record their ideas on a flip chart or whiteboard.
  3. Explain that snow bridges are arcs across a crevasse, a crack in rock, a creek, or some other opening in terrain.  They are typically formed by snow drift.  Show students the Snow bridge Collapse video, then ask, “What do you think is the most dangerous thing about the snow bridge shown here?”  Guide student thinking towards the idea that they hide many dangers.  Record their ideas on a flip chart or whiteboard.
  4. Explain that a crevasse is a deep open crack that occurs in rocks and glaciers.  Crevasses are responsible for many mountain climbing deaths worldwide.  Show students the video Fall into a Crevasse.  Ask, “What did you notice about the inside of the crevasse (depth, dark, smooth vs. rough walls, etc.)?  What do you think might have prevented the fall into this crevasse?”  Lead student thinking towards the use of different types of equipment.  Record their ideas on a flip chart or whiteboard.

Writing Informational/Expository Text:

Student Direction (Click + to open)

Sample teacher and student dialog.

T: Show students the Snow Bridge Collapse video.  “What could have happened to these people based on what you saw?”  “What do you think they could have done to safely cross the snow bridge?”

S: “They could have died, disappeared, got trapped, swallowed by the ice.”

T: “We are going to learn more about this danger by reading some information and watching more videos.”

Remind students how to access the lesson videos either by searching within YouTube or by providing direct video links (see External Resources section).

T: “Use your maker journal page to record your findings.”dl-student


Concept Quick Reference (Click + to open)

Engineers spend time developing empathy to understand how their designs provide benefits to the intended users.  This is an important skill for students to develop, especially when working together as a team to understand and solve a problem or task.

Lesson Vocabulary

Crevasse: A deep open crack, especially one in a glacier or snow-covered mountain.

Empathy: To understand the feelings of another person; to see things from another person’s perspective.

Snow Bridge: An arc made of snow across a crevasse, a crack in rock, a creek, or some other opening in terrain.

Lesson Materials

Tech

  • Access to internet
  • Computers or mobile devices

Other

  • Whiteboard or flip chart

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

Check your internet connection and test all devices and videos for functionality.

Consider selecting and distributing to students short excerpts from books in this Book & Video List that discuss traveling across icy terrain or overcoming physical hazards in the ice or snow.

Learning Targets

  • Students will be able to write informational texts clearly explaining the need for a new bridge-like solution for crossing a crevasse

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their own Maker Journal entries and summarize their learning in a group discussion

Peer Assessment

Student groups compare their Maker Journal pages with each other and discuss their ideas for preventing a fall into a crevasse.

Teacher Assessment

Review student Maker Journal pages for formative assessment and discuss with individual groups as they work.  Use the rubric below for assessing the informational text written in the Maker Journals.

Informational Writing Rubric

Lesson Overview

In this lesson students learn and practice the steps for conducting an effective brainstorming session.  They generate and compare multiple solutions (3-5-ETS1-2) in order to produce an action plan for answering a design question.

Essential Questions:

  • What is the main goal of brainstorming?
  • Why is it important to avoid judgement during a brainstorm?
  • What is the purpose of an action plan?

LESSON PROCEDURE

  1. Distribute a sticky notepad and marker to each student.
  2. Review the steps for brainstorming with students (see Concept Quick Reference below).
  3. Students watch the video on brainstorming rules ( see External Resources section).
  4. Write this question on a whiteboard or flip chart: “What are some creative ways of safely crossing a crevasse?”
  5. Student groups generate ideas for answering the question.
  6. Students engage in the remaining steps of the brainstorming process using the Maker Journal page as a guide.
  7. Students discuss and write an action plan in the student Maker Journal page.

Student Direction (Click + to open)

Sample teacher and student dialog.brain

T: Show students the steps in the brainstorming process (right).  “Why do you think there are steps for coming up with ideas in a group?  Why is there a process?”

S: “Only one person shares, too many people talking at once, people are afraid to share ideas.”

T: “We are going to practice the steps in this process so we can answer a question.  I will post the question.  When I say to begin, each person in your team will write one idea on a sticky note and then put the sticky note onto the team’s table.  This will continue until time is called.”

S: “How many sticky notes do we need?”

T: “Keep writing one idea per sticky note until I say to stop.  You will probably use lots of sticky notes!  Remember, each person is writing down his or her ideas.”
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Concept Quick Reference (Click + to open)

The engineering process involves coming up with many approaches to a design problem.  Design teams usually have several people participating and the best process for coming up with lots of ideas quickly is brainstorming.  It is most effective when done with groups of four or more people because its main goal is to produce lots of ideas around a central problem or question in a short period of time.  The more thinkers participating, the more ideas are generated.  Brainstorming in large groups also makes less work for each individual.  After all, thinking is hard work!

Many times when people share ideas the natural tendency for most is to evaluate each idea to determine which one is best.  Although this activity has its place in the planning process, in brainstorming it is best held off until later.  In fact, the most important part of the brainstorming process is deferring judgement and criticism.  We instinctively want to qualify what we see and hear.  Qualifying ideas before they are fairly considered can become a roadblock to the generation of new ideas in quantity.  People are less likely to contribute ideas if each idea is immediately judged as good or bad by the group!

The brainstorming process starts with a brief summary of the situation leading to the problem to be solved.  The problem is usually stated as a question.  Generating ideas usually happens quickly because the ideas are not discussed until later in the process.  Then ideas are selected (prioritized or sorted) according to some agreeable criteria defined by the group.  The advantages and disadvantages of each prioritized idea are listed so group members can share any concerns associated with an idea.  Finally, the group comes up with a plan for moving forward on an idea.

Lesson Materials

Tech

  • Computers or mobile devices

Other

  • Whiteboard or flip chart
  • Sticky Notepads
  • Markers

External Resources

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

Circulate around the room to ensure students are generating ideas without passing judgment on ideas from peers.  Remind them to go for quantity!

Active Classroom

Communication is critical in the design process. Students need to be allowed to talk, stand, and move around to acquire materials.

Learning Targets

  •  Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Students reflect on their level of participation during the brainstorm and rate themselves on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the most active.  Call on a few students to share and explain their ratings.

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their action plans and a few ideas generated during the brainstorm.

Teacher Assessment

Review student Maker Journal pages, look for a clear description of the group’s idea, list of needed materials and/or tools, and clearly defined responsibilities for each person in the group.

Lesson Overview

Students learn about the forces that affect the stability of structures (3-PS2-1) and methods of increasing the strength of building materials.

Essential Questions:

  • What are forces?  What is gravity
  • How do forces such as gravity affect the motion of objects, including people?
  • How can materials be modified (changed) so they are stronger and withstand larger forces within a design?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

Understanding Forces:

  1. Line students up in two even rows facing each other.  Have them hold their arms outstretched with hands pointed up, with palms touching.
  2. Students press their palms together and gradually press harder until someone needs to take a step back to due the strength of the pressing motion.  Explain that when the pressing and resisting continue, there is balance, that is, no one is moving back or forward.  When students take a step back, there is unbalance because one or more of the interacting students are in motion.
  3. Explain that the pushing motion is a force on an object (hand).  Technically the owner of each hand can be an “object” as well.  Mention that forces can have different strengths (magnitudes).  The change in magnitude in this activity is felt as a stronger push on the hands.
  4. Repeat the procedure except focus this time on pulls rather than pushes.  Have students across from each other hold hands as if doing a handshake but without the shake.  Students pull gently and continue to gradually increase the strength of the pull.  No yanking very hard on the arms!
  5. Explain that forces can be pulls as well as pushes.  Pushes and pulls on an object directly opposing each other do not change the motion of the object (forces balanced).  It is not until one force becomes larger than the other that we begin to see objects move (forces unbalanced).
  6. Choose a random unbreakable object and hold it at eye level so students can see it.  Ask, “What are the forces acting on this object?”  Lead students towards gravity as a force that is opposing the force applied by your hand.  Ask students to describe whether the forces are balanced or unbalanced and how they know it.  Encourage them to recall the activity they just did.
  7. Have students predict what will happen when you let go of the object.  Then have them describe what happens when the object lands on the floor in terms of balanced and unbalanced forces.

Student Direction (Click + to open)

Sample teacher and student dialog.

T: Show students images of various frame structures such as house frames.  You may want to select images using Google Images.  “Which of these structures do you think is the strongest?  Why?”

S: “The structures made with the most wood are strongest because wood is a strong thing; The ones with more triangles will be stronger because it’s a strong shape; The ones with metal beams are stronger because metal is stronger than wood.”

T: “We are going to build structures using straws and connectors.  Then we are going to test the structures to see how they can be improved and made stronger.  Use the student maker journal page to guide your group’s activities.”dl-student


Concept Quick Reference (Click + to open)

Engineers are people who design and build things that solve problems.  They do this using science and math.  They conduct experiments just like scientists.  For example, an engineer might put a known weight on a bridge to test how strong the bridge is.  If the bridge breaks, the engineer can rebuild it using a different design or new materials.  The engineer will note where the breaks occur on the bridge.  These positions are called failure pointsVariables are things that affect the outcome of an experiment.  In the bridge example, the weight is a variable.  Another example of a variable is temperature.  Air temperature affects how quickly ice melts and becomes liquid water.  Hot weather makes snow melt faster than cold weather.  Keeping Controlled variables are held constant during testing,  which helps engineers to make logical conclusions about whether or not the design performs as it should under specific conditions.  The process of conducting several tests on a device or solution where variables are controlled and failure points are considered is called fair testing.

Lesson Vocabulary

Failure Point – This is an undesirable part of a system causing it to malfunction or not work.

Fair Tests – Scientific tests conducted on a design under various conditions (variables) to identify weaknesses and failure points in the design.

Variable – This is an element, feature, or factor that is liable to vary or change.  Example: temperature.  A controlled variable is a variable that an engineer or experimenter manipulates or sets as a constant.

Lesson Materials

Building Materials

  • Straws

Connecting Materials

  • Paper clips

Tech

  • Computers or mobile devices
  • Internet access

Other

  • Scissors

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

Active Classroom

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

  • Identify variables that should be controlled while testing a model
  • Identify failure points in a model
  • Identify aspects of a model that could be improved

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Students review and discuss their answers to the questions regarding variables and fair tests.

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their plans for conducting fair tests on their designs.

Teacher Assessment

The following are simple questions you could ask students during the lesson:

  • What inspired you to come up with your design?
  • How many variables have you identified in your model?  Failure points?
  • What do your test results tell you about strengthening the failure points?

Lesson Overview

Students learn about fair tests in engineering and about the types of variables to be considered during fair tests.  Students build structures with paper clips and straws according to a set of criteria and constraints.  Then, students conduct fair tests on the structures to identify aspects that do not meet the criteria or constraints (failure points) that can be improved.  Students apply knowledge from previous lessons to make necessary modifications to their structures (3-5-ETS1-3).

Essential Questions:

  • What are fair tests in science & engineering?
  • What are the variables that must be considered for a test to be considered “fair”?
  • What are failure points?
  • How can the results of fair tests be used to identify failure points and improve a design?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

Variables and Fair Tests

  1. Give students the following scenario: “Suppose you are standing in line with other students for a turn on a swing and your turn is next.  If another student cuts in front of you, would that be fair?  Why or why not?”  Call on a few students to share their thinking.
  2. Explain the line as a “controlled” order of students waiting for a turn, that is, it has a defined order.  It must remain so for the turn-taking to be fair.  A student’s spot in line remains his or her spot in line as long as he or she intends to keep take turns on the swing (assuming no one else joins the line).  In other words, the order of students is kept the same from turn to turn, hence the term “controlled.”
  3. Mention that scientists and engineers control certain things when conducting experiments or testing their designs.  This helps produce reliable results that lead to improvements to the design.

Student Direction (Click + to open)

Sample teacher and student dialog.

T: Show students images of various frame structures such as house frames.  You may want to select images using Google Images.  “Which of these structures do you think is the strongest?  Why?”

S: “The structures made with the most wood are strongest because wood is a strong thing; The ones with more triangles will be stronger because it’s a strong shape; The ones with metal beams are stronger because metal is stronger than wood.”

T: “We are going to build structures using straws and connectors.  Then we are going to test the structures to see how they can be improved and made stronger.  Use the student maker journal page to guide your group’s activities.”dl-student


Concept Quick Reference (Click + to open)

Engineers are people who design and build things that solve problems.  They do this using science and math.  They conduct experiments just like scientists.  For example, an engineer might put a known weight on a bridge to test how strong the bridge is.  If the bridge breaks, the engineer can rebuild it using a different design or new materials.  The engineer will note where the breaks occur on the bridge.  These positions are called failure pointsVariables are things that affect the outcome of an experiment.  In the bridge example, the weight is a variable.  Another example of a variable is temperature.  Air temperature affects how quickly ice melts and becomes liquid water.  Hot weather makes snow melt faster than cold weather.  Keeping Controlled variables are held constant during testing,  which helps engineers to make logical conclusions about whether or not the design performs as it should under specific conditions.  The process of conducting several tests on a device or solution where variables are controlled and failure points are considered is called fair testing.

Lesson Vocabulary

Failure Point – This is an undesirable part of a system causing it to malfunction or not work.

Fair Tests – Scientific tests conducted on a design under various conditions (variables) to identify weaknesses and failure points in the design.

Variable – This is an element, feature, or factor that is liable to vary or change.  Example: temperature.  A controlled variable is a variable that an engineer or experimenter manipulates or sets as a constant.

Lesson Materials

Building Materials

  • Straws

Connecting Materials

  • Paper clips

Tech

  • Computers or mobile devices
  • Internet access

Other

  • Scissors

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

Active Classroom

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

  • Identify variables that should be controlled while testing a model
  • Identify failure points in a model
  • Identify aspects of a model that could be improved

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Students review and discuss their answers to the questions regarding variables and fair tests.

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their plans for conducting fair tests on their designs.

Teacher Assessment

The following are simple questions you could ask students during the lesson:

  • What inspired you to come up with your design?
  • How many variables have you identified in your model?  Failure points?
  • What do your test results tell you about strengthening the failure points?

Design Challenge Overview

In this culminating project, students apply the skills and concepts learned through the empathy and define phase activities.  They will ideate, prototype, test, reiterate, and finally create a successful model of a method for crossing a crevasse.  Students learn the design process is a non-linear series of steps that can require multiple applications.  This helps develop perseverance and creativity as well as facilitate collaboration.

Essential Question:  

  • How can a we model a method of crossing a crevasse to get people to safety using only the materials provided?

LESSON PROCEDURE

  1. Students facilitate a brainstorm in their groups to generate approaches to solve the design problem.
  2. Student groups agree on an idea from the brainstorm and then select materials with which to build their first prototype.
  3. Students build a prototype according to the criteria and constraints defined in the design challenge introduction (see section below).
  4. Students test their first prototype, noting any changes or modifications that must be made in the Maker Journal page.
  5. Students reiterate, repeating the process until the group agrees their model successfully meets the criteria and constraints.
  6. Student groups demonstrate how their models solve the design problem and address the hidden dangers in the ice learned about in Lesson One (empathy phase).

Introduce the Design Challenge (Click + to open)

Sample student & Teacher Dialog.

T: Introduce students to the design problem.  “You and your design team need build a prototype for a new way of crossing over a crevasse to keep mountain climbers safe.”

S: “What is the best way for us to build it?”

T: “You must work collaboratively (together) and be persistent (do not give up!).  Listen to the ideas shared by your teammates, consider all possibilities, and have fun.”

S: “Does our prototype have to be a bridge?”

T: ” The crossing does NOT need to be a bridge!  You can come up with wild and crazy ideas to complete the challenge as long as your design meets the criteria and constraints AND keeps the intended users safe (they reach the other side of the crevasse!)”

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)
  • Model spans minimum of 2 ft.
  • Model must be easily put together and taken apart
  • Model can continuously hold a designated load
  • Model is portable
  • Model must be built with materials provided
  • Model must be completed and tested in the given time
  • Model must include 8 different materials in addition to fasteners and/or adhesives
  • Model must not be secured to the ground or testing area in any way

Ideate

Students ideate in order to blend their understanding of the problem with their imaginations to generate solutions, usually through brainstorming.  Students will brainstorm solutions for the problem of getting people safely across a crevasse.  Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as the iterate (create new versions of a solution).

Student Directions (Click + to open)

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T: “Now you get to make one of the ideas from your brainstorm real.  You will build the first prototype, or iteration for safely crossing a crevasse.  I have provided building materials for you to use.  Remember to always keep the criteria and constraints in mind as you build.”

S: “Our group is afraid of building something that does not work the first time.”

T: “Be willing to fail.  Fail stands for First Attempt In Learning, and it is part of the engineering design process.  The goal is to get something made that can be improved upon and made better through testing.”

S: “So, in engineering failure is a good thing.”

T: Remind students to be conscious of the build time given to them.  “Do not spent too much time overthinking how to start building your prototype.  More ideas can come as you build, and you will likely make modifications and refine your design after conducting tests on this first prototype.”

Prototype

Students choose specific materials with which to build a prototype after they agree on a design idea for safely crossing a crevasse generated during the ideate phase.  The first prototype, or iteration, is usually developed quickly in order to get a real visual of how the idea might work and meet the criteria and constraints.  Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as the iterate.

Student Directions (Click + to open)

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T: As students engage in fair testing, ask questions to guide student thinking.  “What are your predictions about the structural integrity of your design?  What do you notice when moving a load across the prototype?  Where is the design strong?  Where are the failure points?”

S: “We think it will crack in the middle.”  “We used a sling shot approach but the load does not look like it reaches the other side safely (fell into the crevasse!)”

T: “What will you change after conducting the first test?”

S: “We are going to change the position of the fasteners so they strengthen the failure points.”

Test your Design

Students test their design to see if it meets the defined criteria and constraints.  The tests should reveal a need to refine the design and make modifications.  This might include attaching more parts or replacing broken ones, modifying the shape, etc.  During this phase, students should collect and record data before returning to a previous phase.  Keep in mind students may choose to or need to return to this phase as they iterate.

Student Directions (Click + to open)

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T: Give students instructions regarding materials to be used, the time constraint, and the location and safety considerations for the testing area.  “The materials are laid out on the table (specify location).  Remember you have a total of 45 minutes to build, test, and iterate.  The testing area is located (specify location).  Make sure only one team is using the testing area at a time.”

S: “Will you tell us when to test our designs?”

T: “No, you will test your designs when your team considers the design ready for testing.  You will test, make modifications, and continue testing until your design meets all criteria and constraints.”

S: “I like that we get to decide how often to test.  It makes us feel like we are in control of our learning through this process!”


Concept Quick Reference (Click + to open)

This design challenge allows students to engage in the engineering design process.  This process can be represented in many ways.  For example, the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California uses an easy-to-follow process (below).  People may engage in the steps in any order and can do more than one at a time.  Engineering is an iterative discipline with many design steps being taken several times.  This is why there are so many versions of televisions, toothbrushes, and many other common items.

engineeringdesignprocess_finalLesson Vocabulary

Constraint – Limitations placed on possible design solutions such as budget, size, time, space, or available materials.

Crevasse – This is a deep open crack, especially one in a glacier.

Criteria – Desired features or abilities of a design solution describing the standard the solution must meet.

Design Process – Non-linear sequence of steps for the planning and construction of an object or a system.  Examples include architectural blueprints and business processes.

Engineer – Person who has scientific training and engages in the design process to design and build products, machines, systems, structures, and/or processes.

Failure Point – This is an undesirable part of a system causing it to malfunction or not work.

Fair Tests – Scientific tests conducted on a design under various conditions (variables) to identify weaknesses and failure points in the design.

Iteration – This refers to a version of a prototype in the design process.  Future versions (iterations) are modified based on results obtained from fair tests in terms of the design’s ability to meet defined criteria and constraints.

Model – Scaled representation (2-D or 3-D) of a person, thing, or proposed structure.

Prototype – Preliminary model of something from which other forms are developed or copied.

Variable – This is an element, feature, or factor that is liable to vary or change.  Example: temperature.

Design Challenge Materials

Building Materials

Connecting Materials

  • Binder clips
  • Paper clips

Other

  • Scissors
  • Sticky Notepads
  • Markers

Maker Journal Pages

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Teacher Notes

Organize all materials neatly on 1-2 tables or carts.  This will allow students to easily access the materials.  Depending on space, it might be best to allow only 1-2 members from each team to gather items for their team.

The testing area should model a gap between two points such as between two desks or tables.  It might be best to allow two groups in the testing area at a time to ensure tests are conducted safely.

Active Classroom

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

  • Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem.
  • Identify variables that should be controlled while testing a model
  • Identify failure points in a model
  • Identify aspects of a model that could be improved
  • Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Students rate their level of contribution to the final design on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the most contributory.

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their designs, providing each other with suggestions.

Teacher Assessment

Student groups share their designs with the class, including failure points identified during the testing, the variables they controlled, and the modifications made based on the testing.