This is the second part of a 2 part activity. In a previous lesson, the book “Those Darn Squirrels!” was read. The children tried to solve the main character’s problem by using the first steps of the engineering design process. Then they brainstormed ideas and then chose their best one.
In this lesson, the class will work in teams to find the best idea from all of their ideas. Expectations for working in a group will be discussed. As an assessment, the children rate themselves as an engineer.
The students will be participating in collaborative conversations with their peers to decide on a common idea for their bird feeder design. Together, the group will develop a simple sketch to illustrate how the bird feeder will function. They are going to have to analyze each person's ideas that solve the same problem of deterring the squirrels and look at the strengths and weaknesses of all of the designs to be able to chose the best one or the combination of designs.
I begin the lesson by having the children come to the corner. I write the word TEAMWORK on the board. I want to relate what we are about to do with something that the children have had experience with. This will help to activate their schema and make them be more open to the new ideas we will be working on.
If you have ever been on a team raise your hand. Immediately the majority of hands shoot up. What kind of teams have you been on? John answers that he is on a soccer team. Other children tell me they are on teams such as basketball, football, cheerleading, and baseball.
Well today we are going to be working in teams, just like you have done before. Sounds like you have lots of experience being on teams. Johnny, you said you were on the soccer team, right? So I have a question for you. Let's say you score a goal. Do you get the point or does your team get the point?
He answers, The team!
Why don't you just get the point?
Because we are playing as a team. We all worked to get that goal.
I reply, that's right. Teams work together to accomplish things. Today you are going to get a chance to work on a team, just like engineers and scientists sometimes do. We are going to work together to come up with one main design for a squirrel proof feeder.
I have the children fill out a self-assessment of how they worked as an engineer (see resource used in previous step titled How Well Did I work as an Engineer? Self Assessment). Click for a Student Sample of a student who filled out a self-assessment. I found the children rated themselves pretty accurately. The main area that I found the children needed to work on was asking questions of the speaker. Most of them forgot to do it. I told them that was fine, we are just learning how to be good listeners and they should try to remember for next time.
I make a T-chart on the board and label it “Effective Behaviors” and “Ineffective Behaviors.” We discuss what type of behaviors were effective, such as listening to the speaker, being respectful and giving a sincere compliment, etc. We also discuss any problems that have occurred, such as children not being open to other people’s ideas, talking when someone is sharing or not compromising.
I ask the children, “How could YOU have been more effective in your group?”
I have them flip their self-assessment over and write their answer on the back.
Note: I purposefully did not put this question on the front of the sheet since kids try to fill it in before our discussion.
Then we review what we have learned in this lesson. Engineers, help solve real problems. Sometimes they must work in groups to do this. They must be respectful to each other to get the job done.