This lesson is the final lesson in our attempt to solve a real life pollution problem in our community and to act as engineers. Students have identified a problem, collected data about the problem, posed a solution and now they are going to carry out the solution.
Each classroom will have a different problem and solution so the goal of this lesson is to put into practice the science and engineering standards of identifying a problem, developing a sketch and or model of the problem, and finally analyzing data to determine if 1 solution is better than another.
In this phase of the lesson students will carry out their problem solution as defined in the last lesson. It is important to keep the focus on how the solution helps to solve the identified problem. Because this is a group project, making sure that all students remain engaged will be important. Communicating the solution to others will also be important in this lesson.
In larger groups student engagement can be a problem. I don't want just 1 or 2 people solving the problem and so part of the planning sheet will include a list of who will do what. That way each student will have a job to perform. I will ask students to rate their own input into the process at a midpoint, and at the end of the work. By stopping midway through the work and asking students to rate their own performance, I am giving them a second chance to get involved in the project.
The analysis of the data is the final step of this set of lessons. It will need to be done once the data is collected. It can be part of a math lesson on graphing.
At this point the class has chosen 3 solutions to work on. One is posters, one is book writing, and the other is a video about pollution at the beach. I ask students to rate the 3 options and I tell them that I will try to put them in their first choice, but if we all pick the same thing, we would only do 1 solution. I have the students check off their first choice on a piece of paper, add their name and then I quickly collect the papers and sort them into the two solutions. I try to have an even distribution of the class on each solution. (The reason that I have the students vote this way is to make sure they pick what they want to do and not what their friend wants. I would prefer to have students not work in friendship groups for this.)
I say to students,
"You will meet in your groups and decide how you will carry out the solution to the problem. The poster group needs to decide if you will make individual posters, posters in partners or 1 large poster and what the posters will say. You will need to decide if you will draw the posters, use photographs, or what other things might be on your posters. You have a planning sheet pollution jobs to fill out before you begin to make the posters.
The video group needs to decide what the video will be about. You will need to decide if you are going to act something out, show it with puppets, or have someone talking about how to fix the problem. You also have a planning sheet to complete. Using A Story Board To Organize Their Video
The book group will need to decide what is on each page. You will also need a planning sheet.
Each group will need to write a list of materials they will need.
When your group has finished the planning sheet please raise your hand and I will come over to your group to look at it and see if you are ready to begin work on the final project. Are there any questions?"
I let students ask questions to clarify what they need to be doing. Parent volunteers are helpful when students are planning their products.
For this part of the lesson I make sure that each group has the materials they requested. I say, "I bet you are really excited about finally making a solution to our problem. You will have about 45 minutes to make your posters, or video today. Remember to do your best work because we want others to be able to read your poster or understand your video.
I have put an I CAN page on the tables for each of you. At the mid point I will ask you to stop and put on a smiley face to show how well you are participating with your group. Remember that everyone should be participating in the project and doing their part. I will ask you at the end to rate your participation again so remember to keep working on your task that you recorded on the planning sheet yesterday."
During this work session I circulate around the room. I ask students to explain what they are working on. I ask clarifying questions such as "why did you draw a picture of a city when we are talking about the beach? or "why have you decided to have puppets throwing trash on the ground in your movie?" I try to ask why questions to encourage students to think about how their solution matches the problem they are trying to solve.
I ring the bell half way through the session and ask students to rate their participation. I do this same thing at the end of the session.
In order to for students to know that their work was real, you will need to design a way for students to share their work. It would also be helpful for students to get feedback on the effectiveness of their work.
For us I know that in winter it would make no sense to put up posters by the beach, so I have decided to have the poster group pose for photographs with their posters so I can post them to my website, and to then take their posters to the other classrooms in the school. I will also hang the posters on the front bulletin board of the school and then move them outside in the spring. I have also arranged for the video to be posted on my website for parents to see, and to have it played over the school television channel for all classes to see. I have also arranged to place the book in the school library for everyone to view. I have asked teachers to take a quick survey after the video and poster showings to ask students which one they think will help them most with remembering not to throw trash on the ground at the beach, the posters, the video, the book or a combination of both. The teachers send me back the survey results for the class to view and discuss.
I also send a note home to parents on the homework packet asking them to view the video and the posters and to tell their students whether they think the video, the posters or a combination might help with reducing trash at the beach.
When I have all of the results back from homework and from other classes I post it for students to view. We look at which of the methods alone, or the combination of methods would be the most effective to help with the trash problem.
I ask students what they notice from the data. "Which way did most people say was helpful to them?" "Were any of the ways the same?" "Did one way seem to be less helpful?"
"How might we show this information to the rest of the school?" (create a graph)
"Today we will create a graph to display our findings. The poster people had ____ votes. I would like that many people to make a small graphic of a poster to put on our graph. We will decide who in a minute. The video people had ______votes so we will need people to make a small graphic of a movie for our graph and finally the two together had _______votes so we will need that many people to make a graphic of a movie and a poster on the same card. We will divide into 3 groups. Each group will make the right number of small pictures for their part of the graph. When yours are made you will glue them on sentence strips to make our graph. We can put the sentence strips together to show our findings."
I divide the students up into 3 groups and assign each group one category. I give them small strips of paper and long sentence strips. I tell them that today we will make a horizontal graph so they just need to glue the pictures next to each other on the paper. I demonstrate this on the board. I give students about 10 minutes to make their part of the graph. I circulate around to provide assistance as needed, especially with gluing the pictures horizontally and next to each other.
When the groups are done, I ring the bell and ask everyone to return to their seats. I take the 3 graph strips and tack them on the board on a large sheet of paper. I ask students how we should label each row, and the title of the graph.
I close today by asking students what they have learned about pollution in our community and possible ways to fix the problem.
Students have just spent several weeks discussing pollution in their community and how to clean in up. There are several possible writing connections that would be ways to close this unit.
Students could write a mock newspaper to share what they found out, how they created a solution and how that solution might help the community. They could write a letter to the newspaper individually or as a class telling about their findings. Students could also write a book about pollution in their town and how a class of students tried to clean it up.
I would choose a meaningful writing assignment to close this unit. It allows me to assess student understanding of the steps we went through in defining a problem, posing a solution and then trying out that solution. All of these are part of the NGSS engineering standards and the written assessment is one piece of information that I use, along with student input into the process, discussions, and products of the lessons.