Build the Best Balloon Jouster Day 2

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SWBAT: Reflect on their previous designs to create a more effective jouster.

Big Idea

Growth-mindsets don't happen with heartfelt speeches, they occur when students are challenged to persevere with difficult tasks. Reflection drives growth and this lesson provides the opportunity for that.


Learning happens overtime and this is especially true with engineering. Day 2 of balloon jousters give students an opportunity to reflect on the successes of their own designs and the designs of other students, to develop more effective balloon jousters.

Students continue to build understanding of MS-ETS standards, SEPs 1 and 2 and Crosscutting Concept of structure and function.

Based on yesterday's lesson, students have observation written down in their notebooks from the outcome of each design. They will take that information and use it to design better jousters. Students then challenge their peers, following the same procedures as yesterday. As students are testing their jousters everyone else is recording what each design looks like and the outcome of the joust.

Redesigning Our Jousters Based on Previous Observations and Outcomes

10 minutes

Crosscutting Concepts help students make connections and dig deeper into various content.  In engineering, patterns and structure and function are two common CCCs that can help students develop better designs.  To begin, I have students share their findings from yesterday's P.E.O.E. observations.  I instruct them to look at their observations to find any patterns.  

Common patterns from group conversations included:

"Those balloons with the most air had a better chance of popping the opponents' balloon."

"If the jouster was mounted on the top, then it was more likely to pop the balloon."

"The jousters that didn't work either didn't have a lot of air or the jouster fell off."

All of these patterns led to refinements in the students' designs.  Students used the evidence that was collected using the P.E.O.E. strategy to then make connections between structure and function.  They realized that building items a certain way can lead to better function.

Building Our New Jousters

10 minutes

Students get a balloon, piece of drinking straw about 6 cm long, and 2 pieces of tape that are each approximately 4 cm in length. They then follow their blue print to build their design and predict what will happen during their first battle.  

They then fill in the observation and explanation portion of the P.E.O.E. prior to testing their jouster. This is a good time for students to demonstrate that they have completed the required writing portion prior to battling. You should circulate around the room being sure that everyone in the group has thoroughly filled in their P.E.O.E..

This video helps walk you through this process:

Battle Brackets, Take Two!

35 minutes

A battle bracket is developed -- similar to the NCAA basketball tournament -- that has students battle each other to determine a winner. Students create a P.E.O.E. for each battle to drive the reflection process and help make connections to Crosscutting Concepts (structure and function). In that, students predict the outcome of the test and must justify their reasoning (I think ... because...).  

After each battle, the students complete the observe and explain section of the P.E.O.E.  In the end, students will have a log of P.E.O.E.s that helps them determine the best designs because it shows patterns and the relationship between structure and function. Students use this information to inspire the redesigning of their own jousters, in hopes of creating more effective jousters. This is where the rigor of the lesson lies, so make sure that they do this work (not you), and that they don't skip it in order to rush into a redesign and renewed battle. This might require that you stop all activity occasionally and ask students to remind themselves and each other, what process must we do each time? 

* There are online bracket templates that can be used rather than drawing your own.