Motorized Toy Project - The Request for Proposal (Lesson 2)

3 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT read critically the request for proposal and outline the minimum requirements for the new toy.

Big Idea

How do you you know what kind of toy prototype to build?

The Need for the Lesson

The RFP or Request for Proposal is a common tool used in business to solicit new products or service. Students teams will plan their engineering design experience around this document. The RFP provides a context for the engineering design experience giving the project meaning for the students. They now have a customer that is not the teacher. 

Investigation Preparation & Summary

5 minutes

This is lesson two of the Motorized Toy Project

Students will learn and use the vocabulary of engineers, defining problems, constraints and criteria for success. Students will experience the integration of skills across the curriculum as they delve into the project. (MS-ETS1.1 - Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.) Students will be asking the question and solving the problem - What toy design will best meet the marketing goals of MTI (Motorized Toy Company) and how will we develop it? (SP1 - Asking Questions and Defining Problems)

Students collaborate to design and implement a solution to the Request for Proposal letter sent from the fictitious toy company - MTI. (MS-ETS1.2 - Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.) Students will examine various gear ratios to determine which best meets the criteria and constraints of the problem defending their choice using data collected. (SP7 - Engaging in Argument from Evidence)

Students will construct and test multiple gear ratios and use the data collected to make and informed decision about their final product. (MS-ETS1.3 - Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.) Students must analyze the data they have collected. Some student groups may not actually meet the performance requirements set forth by MTI (Motorized Toy, Inc.) and may have to justify their choice of a gear ratio for the toy based on their interpretation of the best fit according to their data. (SP4 - Analyzing and Interpreting Data)

An important understanding for students in that engineering is an iterative process. They will build and test multiple gear ratios models to determine the optimal performance of the motorized toy. (MS-ETS1.4 - Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.) (SP2 - Developing and Using Models)

After implementing their successful solution, students will create a short video to promote their new product (WHST.6-8.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.)

The project models for students how scientific research, collecting data about gears and their performance, and societal desires in the form of the project request from Motorized Toy, Inc., theCrosscutting Concept of Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World.

This PBL is based on the curriculum developed by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) AWIM (A World in Motion) Motorized Toy Project. The original curriculum has great lessons and takes about 8 weeks to complete. The program is outstanding. My modifications are designed to allow the project to be completed in about 3 weeks. The time line allows students to experience a taste of the entire engineering design process required to bring a new product to market.

Kits are available for purchase on the SAW AWIM website - here. If you can partner with an SAE member, the member can apply for one new kit each year for your school. The form to apply for a free kits is here. I have partnered with an SAE member for several years and have three kits that allow me to run this project with all my classes at once.

A complete materials list for this lesson can be found in the resources section.

The NGSS Evidence Statement publication for middle grade engineering was used as a guide for verifying that all engineering standards could be observed in the Motorized Toy Project series of lessons. This video briefly explains that process.

All NGSS evidence statements for middle school can be found here

Students in Action

45 minutes

In the business world, an RFP or Request for Proposal is solicited by companies looking for a new product or service.

Our RFP is from Motorized Toy, Inc. and they are interested in bringing a new toy to market. In this letter MTI details the requirements for the new toy.

You and your team members will read through the RFP and answers some questions to help you focus on the key requirements for the new toy.

Be sure to keep the RFP and your answers in your corporate binder for reference later.

I check for any clarifying questions, then begin circulating around the room. The letter is short and students select a team member to scribe the answers while the team reviews the requirements for the new toy.

Students often finish the RFP reading and questions before the end of the class period.

I remind students to check their time line for due dates.

Students use the remaining time to begin work on their corporation name, logo and slogan as that is the next task due for the project. 

A classroom management goal embedded in this project is the student ability to self manage their progress. They will be reminded to check their timeline regularly. In this video I share why the timeline is an important part of the Motorized Toy Project lesson series.

The documents in the resource section are modified versions of the RFP and RFP responses that are part of the original kit from the SAE AWIM (Society of Automotive Engineers, A Word in Motion) program. They reflect the need to shorten the original 8 week timeline to 3 weeks.