Designing an Eco-friendly Building Part 1

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SWBAT explain why designing an eco-friendly home is an important design problem.

Big Idea

Why is eco-friendly important to architects? Looking for an authentic way to teach energy conservation and integrate engineering? This lesson helps students understand why eco-friendly architecture is an important design problem.


3 minutes

This lesson is divided into four different parts. Teachers can pick and choose where they want to start and the activities they want to use; some or all. The lessons are divided by the engineering standard and by the strategies I use to teach the standards. For example, I use a Student Led Design strategy to develop an engineering design problem. Students use my strategy, Dig Deeper into Science Concepts to understand the important engineering design problem. Finally students use a Write to Learn strategy to express why this engineering design problem is important. 

I have used this lesson format in many ways. Students have wanted to research Eco-Friendly Animal Shelters, Eco-Friendly Homes for the Homeless, Eco-Friendly Homes for Orphans. In my student samples you may read one or more of these ideas. I incorporate the scientific concepts of heat transfer. Additionally. I ask students to think about how the homes we live in are built to take advantage of heat tranfer. Students explore materials and construction options to help build eco-friendly buildings. 

Design Problem

10 minutes

To start the lesson I use a strategy called Student Led Design. I have conducted the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Integration Lesson. I have a bulletin board of World Problems. I ask my students, “If you could help solve a world problem, what would you try to solve?  

Many students look at the bulletin board and explain how they want to help people in need. Students have asked to help the homeless, orphans, and other people in need. I explain that it might be fun to design and eco-friendly home or shelter for people in need. The students are thrilled to explore a way to help others and help solve environmental problems. 

In the movie below, the students have expressed an interest in designing an eco-friendly building. My strategy is Real World Application. I create the lessons to support student learning of a real design problem. 

Design Problem Rationale

20 minutes

The science idea I want students to embrace is that engineers help make the world a better place through design. My intention is to give students an authentic design experience. 

My first strategy is Digging Deeper in Science Concepts.  I ask, “Why is developing an eco-friendly building an important design problem?” I typically get responses about climate change. I ask, "What have we learned about how homes get energy?"  Students look back in their science notebooks for the notes on my lesson, How Do Our Homes get Energy?  In addition, my students have been taught my Climate Change lesson and they have background knowledge as well as references that can be used later in the project. 

I explain, "We need to learn more about why this is an important design problem by determining the systems of homes and how they use energy." Most students do not understand how homes use natural gas. I launch into my Exploring Natural Gas lesson. In addition, I have a lesson called Science Literacy: Natural Gas to integrate literacy. 

My intention is to help students understand how a house is a system of processes that help make the residents comfortable. Many of these systems have environmental impacts to consider in the design of shelter.   

My next strategy is called Find a Fact. Students use their notebooks to look for facts, statistics, and references. Students highlight useful information in their notebooks that can be used to answer the the question, "Why is developing an friendly building an important design problem?" In the movie I show you a couple of examples. 

Communicate a Design Problem

20 minutes

My next strategy is Write to Learn. I ask students to write a 5-7 sentence paragraph explaining why designing a eco-friendly home is an important design problem. They are required to use any source from previous lessons to explain why this is an important problem to solve. My introductory lessons become the resource students can use to use statistics and quotes and to make citations. 

The student will go back to the sources in climate change or natural gas to get the best information for their paragraph. One group of students wanted to make an eco-friendly shelter for animals. I used my Science Literacy: Oil as a lesson and asked them to use the information they learned to explain why designing a shelter for animals is an important design problem. Check out how my students incorporated Common Core reading standards in Shelter for Animals: Student samples