This lesson models the engineering practices; gather information / data, in order to make an informed decision about which instruments to try on the SCL. See reflection on 'Lesson Planning'.
K-2 ETS1-1 Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool
Students make observations about scientific instruments and gather information to help them decide which instruments should be used on the Soda Cup Lander.
- XC 3 Scale, Proportion and Quantity
Students take linear measurements of 'scientific instruments' to help them determine which instruments may work best on the SCL.
- XC 6 Structure and Function
Students observe the structure, buoyancy, mass, length of the 'scientific instrument' to consider the feasibility of its function on the SCL.
Science and Engineering Practices
- SP 1 Asking Questions and Defining Problems
Students are 'notified' that scientists are interested in manufacturing the Soda Cup Lander, but want to know what scientific tools will be included on the lander. Students apply testing criteria and ask questions, to gather information about the scientific tools that could be included on the lander. They rank the tools based on the need of the scientist.
- SP 3 Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
Students make observations and/or measurements to help them determine which scientific instruments to include on the SCL.
- SP 5 Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
Students collect data on mass and length to help them determine which scientific instruments to include on the SCL.
Materials for 'Scientific instruments'
- I post a picture of the materials so students know what these small models represent
- tongue depressors cut up and reassembled to make remote arm and camera
I used a hot glue gun to assemble pieces. By the time that students had completed the next lab, testing the instruments on the SCL, the models made out of wood and glue began to come apart. I will be looking for more permanent items for next year's lab.
- mini test tubes for sediment sample and water trap
- wire ties for antenna
- soda caps tapped together for battery pack
- water bottle sipper cap for audio recorder
- soda bottle cap with nylon cover for sonar
I used small rocks, pennies and salt, to create more mass.
A set of instruments, the SCL, scale and ruler are placed in the team's tub, which will later be used as the test tank for the instruments.
Possible Labels for 'Scientific Instruments'
- remote arm
- battery pack
- sediment trap
- lights pack
- audio recorder
- water sample container (trap)
Student /Team Materials
- Part 3 of the Soda Cup Lander Lab
- test tank
- small hand towel to dry off materials
- 'scientific instruments' in a baggie
Question of the day: How does a submersible help us learn about the ocean?
We meet on the rug for the 'question of the day'. I ask students to read the question and share their answer with a neighbor. I call on a student to share what her neighbor said, to encourage careful listening.
"Right, so a submersible moves into the deeper parts of the ocean so that we can learn about the ocean animals and what the water and ocean floor are like."
"So far our model submersible, the soda cup lander, can travel to the bottom of the ocean and back again, but it does not have any instruments to help scientists gather data about the deep ocean. What scientific instruments would help us learn about the deep ocean?"
I write student ideas on the board and connect it to their answers. "A camera would help us learn about the animals."
Transition to Team Tables
"I received a letter from Marine Scientists who have asked that we gather data on some of the scientific instruments to see if they would work on the Sea Cup Lander. You have a copy of this letter in your lab book."
I simulate a scenario, the letter from the scientists, to help my students connect their work to what scientists actually do. It engages the learner and provides a realistic context for their investigation.
I direct students to return to their desks, take out their lab book and pencil and move to their 'team table'.
After teams are at their tables with lab books open to the letter, I read the letter with the students. The letter helps establish the purpose of the lab today: take data on instruments to determine which instruments should be recommended for the soda cup lander.
"Engineers, these are our instrument models for the instruments that marine scientists may want on their submersibles." I place the instrument model under the document camera and point to the instrument name on the image document that include notes about the tool. I post this on the board for students to reference as they take their instrument data.
"These are not workable instruments why not? Right these are models, we are not testing if the instruments work, but getting information on the instruments to decide which instruments to choose for the SCL and what would be the best placement on the SCL."
"Today with your engineering team you will test at least 4 of these instruments to help you decide which instruments could work on the Sea Cup Lander. I will give you a couple of minutes to discuss which instruments you may want to test. Circle the instruments your team chooses on the letter we just read."
After a couple of minutes, I signal for students' attention. "What information/data do you think you would need on these instrument and why? For example, maybe your team would need to rank the tools on a scale of 1-4 (data) to define the importance of the instruments for the SCL mission (reason for the data)."
I use this connection to prior learning to help students consider why this data on the instruments would be worthwhile.
I start the discussion by asking, how would testing length help us? I continue the discussion to include the following.
- length of instrument as this may help them decide where to place the instruments on the SCL /ruler
- mass as this may help them decide how to balance out the instruments on the SCL; or makes it too heavy to ascend / scale
- rank the importance of the instrument for the mission / 1-4 scale
- does it float this may alter how SCL, descends, lands and ascends / tub of water
Next I add another column so that students can identify the tool that would help them take their data.
"Let's look in your lab book to see where you will record your data about the scientific instruments for the Sea Cup Lander."
I explain the lay out of the lab page.
"Discuss with your team which SCL instruments you think will be the most worthwhile to test first. Use this time to write the 4 instruments you will test on pages 8 -11, one instrument per page. Write the name of the instrument in the first column."
I want the students to take a moment to write the name of the instruments now, because as soon as they get their materials they will want to start testing.
"While you read over the lab and discuss it with your team, I will pass out your team's tub. This has your SCL and a baggie with all the scientific instruments, along with a scale and ruler.'
After materials are passed out, I carry a pitcher of water to fill up the teams' test tanks.
I walk around the room to check in on how students take their measurements, and if they include the units. I listen to how students choose to rank their instruments and prompt students to provide reasons for their ranking.
About 10 minutes before class is over, I signal for students' attention. I direct them to dry off their instruments and return them to the baggie, pour the water in the planters, dry out the test tank and place all their materials in their test tank/tub.
I signal for teams to move to the rug with their lab books. I ask teams to choose one person to be the spokesperson for the team. This person will raise their hand to show which instruments their team chose to test.
I make tally marks on by the instrument to help summarize what other teams are considering to place on their SCL.
After we review tally marks, I direct teams to place lab books in your science folder and check that all materials have been placed back in the tubs.