A Phone of the Future

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Students use engineering skills to define problems with cellphones and create new designs that solve those problems.

Big Idea

Students create the phone of their dreams using engineering skills and develop a Story Kit app presentation to share their ideas.

Engaging Their Understanding

15 minutes

I had stumbled across a bunch of old cellphones that ranged from the 80's through the early 2000's, hanging around in my basement in a box. What a perfect chance for students to really look at first hand and see how fast the cellphone morphed into what we know it as today. The cellphone is so much a part of our lives that I thought it would be great to develop our engineering skills by extending our knowledge about telephones, sound wave transfer and delve into developing a phone of the future.

Beginning the Lesson: I replayed the portion of the You Tube Video from the Can You Hear Me Now lesson from yesterday. I started from the point where cell phones were starting to be shown and focused them on watching how quickly cell phones changed. They became smaller, shapes and buttons changed, screens appeared and antennas disappeared. I played it again, only this time I stopped at each frame and we discussed each one. I led my students in a line of questioning that helped set them up to think about how cell phones were engineered. 

Why would they do that? ( As I changed the frame in the video and another feature of the phone changed.)

What do you think people were wanting when we started to see the screens appear? How did they evolve into what we have now? I held up my iPhone.

As we began this process of thinking about cell phones and how they were developing. I asked them if they would like to practice their engineering skills and design a phone of the future? This was met with cheers!

Planning & Sketching

30 minutes

I passed out the Expectations and Rubric Document to each student. This rubric is a little different and is simply a check off list. In order to score a full 20 points, they needed to have evidence of each of the points. 

I explained that they would need to start by creating a list of things they really don't like about current cell phones. I gave an example that I really hate that the finger print feature on mine will not read my finger prints. My finger prints don't register for some reason. I told them that I would figure out a way for cell phones to unlock using another feature like scanning my palm or eye or something! I told them to take a blank page in their notebook, create a T chart and on one side, list all the things that irritate them about cellphones that they would want to change. On the otherside, list positive things that they would keep or improve upon. They were hooked and ready to get to work!

I told them that after the planning was done, they could draw and color their cell phone. They were able to draw as many views of the phone they needed in order to communicate their plan. As they worked, I roved the classroom and asked a lot of questions to probe and inspire their thinking. One student talked about what he didn't like. His partner shared ideas, building off of their collaboration. 

Another student's list showed complete understanding of how to problem solve as we had discussed. We had talked about how the current cellphone is a response to what the consumer wanted. Soon, students approached me with excitement as they started to develop their drawings. One student created a turtle phone. All sorts of creative ideas started to come forth with fresh new phone  ideas. It was great to see. I couldn't wait to see what they would do with their Story Kit app and how they would communicate about their new phones! I would buy some of these!

Story Kit Homework

10 minutes

After students did their own paper drawings, they could begin to work on the Story Kit app. This app is great because you can create and share the link. The link remains and does not disappear when removed from the iPad, like other apps. They were reminded to look at their rubric and include recordings of their voices. Those who were finished in class were able to start. The rest of the students worked on their projects at home for homework. We would be sharing these in class as a presentation. 

Presentations Over The Next Days

10 minutes

Over the course of the next few days, students were allowed to give their presentations of their cell phones using their iPads Story Kit app and Apple TV on the SB for the entire class. This was the icing on the cake! We had such fun. One student presented his "Turtle Phone". ( Click on the speaker icon to hear the presentations.) We have a Phone of the Future! Another one is called "The Inside Out Phone".

I was intrigued by their imaginations. When I graded their rubrics, I checked their notebook lists against their presentations to be sure they applied their plans to their design and final product. To satisfy their engineering standards there had to be evidence that they were solving logical problems about cell phones. The presentations were so much fun for all!

To add to the fun, I copied the Story Kit links into the QR Code Generator so that they could scan the code to look at other's presentations later. I have them cut the code out and then it is displayed in the room. During free read time, they can scan and read each other's work. It's a fun way to share work and engages them to read. Here is a sample QR Code. Open the link. Scan and read! 

QR Sample Phone