Next Generation Science Standards Connection:
This STEM-based Lesson (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is designed to allow my students as much time as needed to analyze and test ways to solve a communication problem. In this lesson multiple things are being learned at the same time so constant assessment happens throughout the lesson. This lesson will provide opportunities for both a high level of discourse and allow for multiple ways to get to the desired outcome. My students learning will be guided by their questions, interest, and attempts at finding a solution to their problem.
Throughout the lesson I be asking questions to facilitate the learning and students spend their work time brainstorming, sharing ideas, and testing their solutions. My students record their observations and evidence in their STEM project page.
By nature STEM lessons may go longer than traditional classroom lessons. You may wish to break this lesson into more than one day.
In order to support a high level of student discourse within my science lessons I have assigned two different student partnerships. Turn and talk partners are discourse partners that work together to share the deep thinking that happens throughout the day. Workshop partners are partners who are matched together for the purpose of working during our independent times. In this lesson students will be engaged in both partnerships.
As a management tool I have the Engineering and Design Process Poster projected on our Interactive Whiteboard. I put my student's photos on magnets and as the children move through the different steps of the Engineering Design Process they move their photo to that step. This allows me to check in with groups and keep track of of who is still designing, evaluating or building.
Prior Knowledge Needed:
Students will need to know that problems are not just solved the first time they try it but will need to try it over and over again. I always tell my students, "Mistakes are opportunities to learn! Let's learn something new!"
I begin this warm up by reviewing the work we did in our first lesson Biomimicry and STEM Day 1. I ask my students to review their designs either alone or with other children who chose to do the same problems. I have two children work alone, one group of three children working together and rest are in partnerships. This can be tricky to manage so I post the "Engineering Design Poster" on my white board and place student photographs on magnets. They move their photos to show where they are in the STEM process. This really helps me to manage who is working at what step and with who.
Today you get to build your design and test it out to see if it works. Can you please take a look at your design and our materials table. I want you to think about what materials are going to help you with your design. At that table you will find hooks, piping, Styrofoam, tape and much, much more. You may chose to build your design alone or work with someone else who has the same problem. Once you have planned out the materials you will use, please visit the materials table.
I stand at the materials table and help guide my students to find good materials for their designs however I find my students make really good material choices.
As my students work I move from partnership to partnership listening in on their research and ideas with the purpose of assessing which students are already beginning to use their research to discuss their designs. This is the perfect opportunity to support or scaffold students who are still struggling with Biomimicry and/or building the design.
In this next section the children get to build their models. They need to bring their STEM Project Page to the materials station to collect their supplies. Once they have their supplies I send them off to work. I give my students time to build their models. As my students work I walk around and confer with each partnership. I act more as a facilitator asking questions and taking notes.
Paper towel rolls
....I ask my classroom parents to donate their "cleaned" recycling to help with this project.
Let's EVALUATE!! It is so important for students to test out their designs and reflect on the success or failures of their models. This reflection allows students to:
*Talk about what works.
*Talk about what doesn't work.
*Talk about what could work better.
The BIG test!
My students begin the evaluation section by testing out their designs. If it works they record their success on the STEM Project Page. I ask my students to write down why the design was successful. Many of the designs fail and this is a good thing because it allows students discover that mistakes are learning opportunity. STEM lessons lend itself to naturally teach students to persevere in learning.
The BIG FAIL!
I LOVE when projects fail not because I want my students to fail but rather it lends itself to allow my students to think deeper about their designs and try again. I really want my students to understand that this is the "true" nature of learning - If it doesn't work, try and try again! When the project fails, my students begin by talking about why they think it didn't work and what they think needs to be changed. I don't have to really coach this part because they are naturally doing this already. I ask them to think about why it didn't work and try to find a way to fix the problem and rebuild. Many times, my students are tweaking their designs while building and fixing and changing them before even testing them out.
A LOT OF TIME
I am sure to leave a lot of time for my students to test, fix and rebuild their models. I keep the materials for a series of days for redesign and allow my students time to find a way to solve the problem.
***In this particular lesson, my students asked to take their design pieces out to their recesses for testing and redesign.
As a formative assessment and after the project is completed I ask each of my students to show me how they have created the design and present their models to the class. I ask the children to report their finding to the class stating what worked and what didn't work.