Lesson 10 of 16
Objective: SWBAT mimic an external part of an animal in order to solve a human problem.
In this lesson, we continue unpacking NGSS standard 1-LS1-1 Use materials to design a solution to a human problem mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.
Wow! That's a complicated standard! I have been laying the groundwork throughout this unit for students to understand how external parts help animals (birds) meet their needs. But the crux of this standard is engineering. Students, like engineers, design a solution to a human problem. To meet the standard, students must define the human problem and then plan a solution that includes labeling the materials needed for their design. In this unit, the NGSS standard does not ask for students to actually build or create the product. This is great because it will really help us concentrate on the first few steps of the process, and it also allows greater creativity when there are no bounds on making it actually come to fruition! However, as an extension, I am going to provide my students with multiple materials to build a prototype.
In a prior lesson, I introduced the concept of engineering and how engineers use science to help them solve problems. Together, we walked through the beginning stages of the Engineering Design Process. Then in a subsequent lesson, again we walked through the first few steps of the Engineering Design Process--ask a question, imagine, and plan. To increase the rigor from the prior lesson and gradually release the skills, students worked in collaborative groups to imagine and draw their plan.
In today's lesson, we will make a list of problems as a shared learning experience. Then, students will pick a problem they would like to focus on and pair themselves with a partner who wants to work on the same problem. If any students have particularly strong instincts for engineering and ask me to work independently, I let them go for it!
First, I review the many jobs of feathers we have listed over the previous 2 lessons.
Next, I review the Engineering Design Process graphic. I created this graphic with visual clues to help primary students remember the steps more easily.
I point to the center, which says, "Engineers solve problems."
Friends, I was astonished by all of the jobs that feathers can do! I am wondering if there are problems here at our school that feathers could help us solve. Together, we will list problems we have at here at school that we could maybe design something to fix.
I am also going to add in an anti-model here to help focus their thinking.
When you think of problems, they have to be something we can fix by mimicking feathers. So, if I have a problem with a kid who hurt my feelings, this is not something I can plan and build a solution for, right? Try to think of a problem more like the claw machine or needing to pick up bugs on the playground. Think of projects we could design! What can we make that we could sell at a store for people to buy and solve this problem? As you turn-and-talk, I want you to ask your partner, "Could we design and make something to solve that problem?"
Brainstorming is fairly successful in my classroom because I employ a turn-and-talk strategy. Students talk with a partner and get some ideas together before sharing. This usually weeds out some of the off-topic ideas. It also allows me to listen-in and hear good ideas that I can call attention to during sharing time.
Together, we list problems at school for which we could design solutions. If students provide an idea that I don't think sounds feasible, I follow-up for more information with questions like, "Did we read about any feathers that could do something like that? What kind of bird might you mimic?"
I explain that students may choose to make a design with a partner or make their own design. Students will be working in pairs, though, with another friend who is focusing on the same problem. I ask, "Why is it important to work with partners? How does it help us?"
Next, I want students to help set up a rubric for their design plan. I have more of a student-led-classroom style; however, you can also provide a rubric for them.
After you have picked what you think is the best idea for a problem, your next step is to draw a plan. (I point to the Engineering Design graphic to lead them and provide a visual reminder that this is our guide.) How will you know if you are being successful today? What do you think your plan should include?
- Name the problem
- Draw a plan
- Label the materials or parts
- Write to tell the bird we are mimicking
The most important aspect of this design is that it mimics a bird, so I put 2 stars next to this part of the rubric. I want students to explicitly state how their design mimics a bird. This addresses the Science Practice of engaging in argument based on evidence-- this solution will work because it has the ____ feature found on ____ bird.
I create a checklist on the whiteboard as students share ideas. Since the whiteboard is a large display, it will be visible to all groups. At this time in the year, I am still training students to make sure they check the rubric. So, as I am circulating, I will ask them to double-check the screen and make sure they have all of the parts. I will also do a check-in after about 5 minutes of design time. During the check-in I usually say, "Put your fist against your chest. Give a thumbs up if you have used the rubric, or a thumb-sideways if you still need to do that. Give a thumbs up if your plan names the problem..." I continue through each item on the rubric. Then before I send them back to working, I remind them to get all items to "thumbs-up."
Earlier in this unit when we mimicked beaks to design a device to pick up dead bugs on the playground, my students wanted to draw the birds they mimicked instead of a product. So, today I am explicitly drawing a model and talking about how I am choosing materials, labeling them, and thinking about how my product mimics a bird but is not the actual bird.
Science, unlike many other content areas, does not require homogeneous or heterogeneous groupings for success. Rather, it is best to group students according to different creative abilities or interests. In this case, I am grouping students by the problem they choose (interest). This grouping increases motivation because students are working on a challenge that is relevant and interesting to them!
While students work, I circulate and ask questions like, "What bird are you mimicking? What problem are you solving? How are you solving the problem?" Self-monitoring progress is an incredibly important skill in all content areas. I also support beginning writers by having them dictate the written portions. I write the dictation either in highlighter for them to copy, or on a sticky note for them to copy.
Here are some of the plans that students came up with:
Student work #1 My breakfast eaters drop cereal on the floor! Here is a new broom created with American Bittern feathers.
Student work #2 To get students' attention in the cafe, the assistant principal will wear a hat with large feathers mimicking the peacock.
Student work #3 Here is one of the hot air blowers to warm students up by putting hot air up their shirt before entering the cafeteria.
Student work #4 Here a student mimics a sand grouse to absorb spilled milk like a sponge.
And here are some video check-ins where students describe their plans and defend their reasoning with evidence from the text:
Check_in_#1 Here a student designs a solution mimicking an American Bittern, whose feathers help clean itself.
Check_in_#2 Here one member of the "cafeteria is cold" group explains their design, based on a blue jay.
Check_in_#3 and Check_in_#4 These two friends used a few different birds to help solve cold and uncomfortable chairs. The peacock feathers on top are just for decoration! I love how they collaborated, but had different design plans.
I play a transition song. During the song, children clean up their materials and return to the rug. I ask a few friends to share their work with the class. While circulating, I picked 1 person from each small group to share. By sharing, students are able to practice both speaking and listening skills.
Today I follow-up with a discussion about the rubric and self-monitoring, because I am trying to instill these as habits.
How did using the rubric help you?
Finally, I close by having students turn-and-talk with a friend, "How were you an engineer today?" This question helps students connect to the engineering design process and the science and engineering practices.