Reflection: Intervention and Extension Engineering Solutions - Section 3: Soaring to New Heights (Exploration)


My original plan was to have students work in small groups to imagine the possibilities and design their plans.  However, in the previous introduction to engineering lesson, many of my students drew the actual bird they were mimicking-- rather than a design plan for a tool.  

To respond to this student need, I slowed down the engineering process today.  Together, we imagined the possibilities and pointed out which features we'd like to mimic.  Here is a video clip with some students deciding which bird would be a good model.  Together, we justified our answers and supported our arguments about which bird feet would make the best claw machine.

Then, I modeled how maybe I would combine different features from different bird feet, like the length of the sandpipers toes plus the claws of the eagle.  This gave students more options in their design!

Next, I explicitly told them that today they were not to draw birds.  They were to draw a claw machine with a new claw.  I modeled drawing it for them and writing my thinking.  I also modeled aloud thinking about what to make my design out of, metal, plastic, or glass.  Through thinking aloud, I was able to bring students to the next step in the process-- drawing an actual plan.

Finally, I assigned them to groups based on other students who wanted to mimic the same bird(s).

Check out some of their work:

  Intervention and Extension: Imagining the Possibilities
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Engineering Solutions

Unit 2: Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Lesson 7 of 16

Objective: SWBAT design a solution to a human problem by mimicking the external features of birds.

Big Idea: Want to waste your money? Try a claw machine! They seem engineered *not* to pick up a prize. Today, student engineers mimic bird feet to design a claw that actually let's you win!

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claw machine
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