Reflection: Complex Tasks Building A Model Roller Coaster - Section 6: Building Our Models - Day 2


Asking students to demonstrate a grasp of the concept that specific materials can do a better job for one task than other materials, and that shape also plays a role in how well something works is not an easy task. 

As students designed and then built their roller coasters, they were often forced to rethink the materials they were using, or a shape they had thought might work, but found that it wouldn't. I watched as students looked at their designs and then tried to make that a reality with the available materials. More than one group figured out how to make the shape of the track they wanted for their roller coaster, but then realized that they had drawn only the track with no support. Students were forced to rethink the task they had been given. One child asked me if he could hold the track but I replied that the idea was to make a freestanding roller coaster so they would need to think about how that might work. The student recalled a previous building lesson on strength of materials and immediately went to the table to choose the popsicle sticks that he had found were strong once before. 

Talking to students and watching them revise helped me to assess student understanding of the concept of material, while students remain engaged in the complex task assigned to them.

  Demonstrating Understanding
  Complex Tasks: Demonstrating Understanding
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Building A Model Roller Coaster

Unit 4: What Is It Made Out Of?
Lesson 7 of 10

Objective: SWBAT choose the best materials to create a model roller coaster

Big Idea: Students need to understand that some materials are better suited to a job than others. Building a model can help them experience that.

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6 teachers like this lesson
Science, building materials, Building Structures, reasoning, models, discussions, matter, shapes
  140 minutes
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