Down the Drain
Lesson 6 of 7
Objective: SWBAT use the engineering design process to design a solution to a local problem.
I started this lesson by showing my students headlines and photos about the drought throughout the Southwest. I then shared a video I took during a late summer monsoon, with water pouring off of the awning of our school, down the sidewalk, and down a storm drain. I challenged them to design a way to capture this water so that it could be used. The constraints were that it had to be something we could actually build at our school, so it would need to be safe, out of the way, and inexpensive. I had them record the problem on their Engineering Design Challenge papers.
I chose not to include the video from my school because this lesson would be much more meaningful if it met a need at your school. You could easily take this one step farther, having students create budgets and propose their ideas to the principal or facilities staff.
I referred the class to the Engineering Design Process Poster, and reminded them that their first step was to find out what other engineers have down to try to solve the problem. They needed some support finding information on this particular challenge. I suggested "rain harvesting" and "rain collecting" as search terms. They went through their search results and recorded some ideas they saw, then chose one as their inspiration.
Once my students had looked over previous solutions, their job was to design three ways to catch the rain water we loose during storms, then choose one to develop further by creating a labeled diagram and a paragraph explaining how their idea works, and why they chose it over the others.