Reflection: Problem-based Approaches Build a Thermos - Section 2: Define the Problem


Before sending your students off to start researching ideas you should frame what aspects of the design they should focus their queries on. 

I like to divide the problem into parts:

  • The object: What are some examples; what is the basic structure and function of each part. 

1-2 questions (what is a thermos? what are the parts?)

  • Manipulated variable: What are the properties/structure/function; availability, safety, use. 

1-2 questions (What materials are better insulators? What has been used in the past?)

  • Responding variable: 1 question (How is heat loss minimized, measured?)

-How is this observed, measured, evaluated? 

  • Relationships between the two: 1 question (What are the the best materials that minimize heat loss and are easily obtainable)

- How are the manipulated and responding variable connected; what is already know about this relationship. 

I suggest that your students limit their questions for research to no more than five or six. Any more than this and they are most likely getting way too specific. 

  Research and Note Taking
  Problem-based Approaches: Research and Note Taking
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Build a Thermos

Unit 1: Heat Transfer and Interactions of Matter
Lesson 10 of 11

Objective: SWBAT will be able to design, construct, and test a thermos structure to determine which model keeps the warmest temperature.

Big Idea: Need STEM lessons to help your students explore heat and temperature? This is the one.

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