In the previous lesson, Engineering Super Seeds Day 1, students selected two challenges, such as gliding 1 meter in a strong breeze or floating on water, that they would build a design for their seed to complete. They used the internet to "shop" for materials, completed a purchase order to "order" materials, and used a spreadsheet to maintain an accurate budget.
Most materials my students ordered were things that I already had in the classroom, such as craft sticks, scissors, glue, and index cards, but I did need to go out to buy a few rolls of duct tape, Gorilla Glue, and adhesive dots. I printed out and signed all of the order forms, and made notes on the forms where I made substitutions (They ordered pink pencils, I gave them yellow), and placed each group's materials together.
Even though I made it very clear when ordering I reminded them that they were only allowed to use materials they ordered, no tape, scissors, glue, or anything from the room. They were shocked to hear this today. I also reminded them that they had until the end of the period to build.
As groups worked, I prepared areas for groups to test designs, and then circulated to coach them along. I spent a great deal of time mediating peer conflicts during this lesson, but when I wasn't doing that, I circulated and asked questions such as the following to keep them productively engaged:
At the end of the period, all models were placed on the table, and off limits until it was time to test after lunch.
After lunch, each group came up one at a time to demonstrate their designs and answer questions about them. I addressed questions to specific group member each time so that the more vocal students did not dominate the conversation.
After one group shared that they had originally planned to make design that could glide and float, they realized that their float design would roll just fine. After hearing this, several groups came back up for another attempt, and found that their designs worked much better for floating than gliding.
Finally, I had each student complete a reflection using Google Forms. (For more information on how to use Google Forms in the classroom, there are many good resources available, but I like 8 Steps to Creating Engaging Google Forms (For Teachers)). It gave me some insight about what they knew, but also made it clear that they do not understand the words I'm using regularly, such as design challenges and constraints. Unbelievably, several students claimed to have either not used technology, or the technology was feathers and glue, which tells me that my objective of understanding spreadsheets as a tool for math was not met.