Motorized Toy Project - Designing a Skin for Your Prototype (Lesson 8)

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SWBAT design a skin for their new motorized toy prototype

Big Idea

To market your toy you need more than just test results. You need to show your audience what it will look like

The Need for the Lesson

The testing is done. Student design teams now must prepare to pith their new motorized toy idea to MTI (Motorized Toy Inc.). This lesson provides an opportunity for students to be creative by using available supplies to make a prototype of their idea. This is what engineers do in the real world. Prototypes can be as simple as folder paper to as complicated as 3D scale models of theme park attractions. Student design teams are engineers at work.

Investigation Preparation & Summary

5 minutes

This is lesson eight 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

90 minutes

To prepare your toy for presentation you will design and develop a skin to show MTI a prototype if your idea.

Large tissue boxes are great! They fit perfectly over the top of the motorized toy chassis and can be easily decorated with paint or construction paper.

The designer should take the lead on the project now. Designers will share their ideas with the team and the team will reach a consensus about how they will proceed. 

The design should represent the toy design you think best meets the criteria outlined by MTI (Motorized Toy, Inc.) in their RFP (Request for Proposal) letter.

Review your notes created when you read the RFP making sure that your toy meets the requirements.

At this time you can divide tasks to expedite the completion of the project. The designer can work on the skin. The engineer can put together the gear ratio that the team feels best meets the criteria for success defined by MTI in the RFP. And the marketing specialist can begin putting together the 1 - 3 minute video to pitch your new toy.

I ask students and fellow teachers to collect the large tissue boxes throughout the school year. By the time we need them for the project I always have plenty in stock. Mostly students use construction paper or paints for the skins. I keep a maker space with odd bits of cardboard, plastic, and miscellaneous materials that can be recycled and repurposed for embellishing the toy designs.

This toy is a motorized castle!

The students added a working draw bridge so children could lower the bring and watch the gears in action. The design team painstakingly put together their gears on the inside of the chassis!


Toy Train Design

In this short video, I share a strategy for expediting the completion of the project if needed.