Reflection: High Quality Task Engineering Earthquake Structures: Day 4 - Section 4: Seismic Design Principles: Engineering Earthquake Structures

 

Just as there is a scientific method, there is a design process.  The emphasis is on the word process.  It is cyclical.  It is a process that is not a straight line.  In my experience, trying to "streamline" the process often eliminates the very process you are trying to teach.  

For example, this engineering design challenge could be completed in a day in a half if I simply gave the students the materials, the challenge, and said "Go!".  Students would design structures, shake them, and might mistakenly call that an engineering experience.  However, it would be far from the case.  Engineering is so much more than the random building or one test of a prototype.  It is based on identifying constraints, research, design decisions based on evidence, and groups evaluating different ideas based on criteria; it is testing design solutions, collecting qualitative and quantitative data, and taking time to analyze the data to improve design; it is comparing your own data to data of others to create better designs and testing and retesting until the best solution is reached.  This takes time!  Slow down.

Within the budget and time constraints in the typical school environment, I know all too well that this can be impossible to implement every time.  However, if you truly want students to connect with the design process, you do need to allow them time and opportunity to go through the entire process without rushing them or "streamlining" the process.  They need practice with letting that process happen and realizing that solutions founded in evidence take time, work, and reflection.  

Don't make the mistake of considering a lesson, in which students build something, an engineering lesson.  Without the design process, it may just be a building lesson.  Take the time to strategically place real engineering experiences throughout your school year!

  Engineering Challenges: Slow down!
  High Quality Task: Engineering Challenges: Slow down!
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Engineering Earthquake Structures: Day 4

Unit 2: Waves and Engineering: Using Waves To Meet Societal Needs and Wants
Lesson 6 of 7

Objective: Students will be able to analyze textual evidence in order to design a structure that can survive seismic waves. Students will also be able to describe the difference between an analog and digital signal.

Big Idea: Students test their prototype earthquake resistant structures, and are introduced to analog and digital signals. What's the connection of analog and digital signals to earthquakes? It's all about how waves impact our lives in the real world!

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