Reflection: Classroom Setup Wild Water Slide: Engineering and Experimental Design (Part 1/3) - Section 3: Explore


When creating an authentic design experience for students, a materials conference helps get them started without robbing them of the joy in creating their own ideas. The engineering design cycle is deceptively difficult to teach. Most students struggle with this abstract process that comes before building. They want to jump right in to building rather than following the engineering process. In order to promote student enthusiasm while encouraging a process-based approach to design, I've found that having a materials consultation helps students frame their thinking about how they will build while still giving them the opportunity to play with materials. To do this, I set up my room with all of the materials in a central location - very creatively called "The Science Store". I set up norms with students in advance about the science store. These norms include: no touching without permission, no "stealing" (taking materials without permission) and no "buying" without a shopping list. These norms help students stay safe and keep the lab managed in terms of behavior. Having a Black Friday Walmart stampede in the science lab is a huge safety hazard and disruption of the learning environment.

Once the science store is open, I invite groups to interact with the materials:

This materials consultation helps students recognize what the materials are like, how the materials might work together and the limitations set forth in the engineering challenge.

  Managing Materials in the Design-Build Process
  Classroom Setup: Managing Materials in the Design-Build Process
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Wild Water Slide: Engineering and Experimental Design (Part 1/3)

Unit 5: Forces and Motion
Lesson 10 of 18

Objective: SWBAT plan and carry out an engineering and experimental investigation about speed using science and engineering practices.

Big Idea: Welcome to the water park! Create a wild water slide and use it to conduct an experiment to answer questions about speed.

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