Motorized Toy Project - Research Similar Toys (Lesson 5)

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SWBAT defend their choice for the new motorized toy using market research.

Big Idea

How do you know there is a market for your new motorized toy?

The Need for the Lesson

How do you know the new product you are designing is marketable? In this lesson, students research similar toys to show that their ideas have merit and should be considered by MTI (Motorized Toy Inc.) for product development. They are fulfilling a need established by the RFP (Request for Proposal) for MTI and must have the justification needed to pitch the toy at the end of the project.

Investigation Preparation & Summary

10 minutes

This is lesson five 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

You have had some time to think about the RFP from MTI. What toy design do you think will appeal to the targeted audience? MTI would like toys that can be  marketing to boys and girls in elementary school. They are specifically interested in toys that would appeal to girls. 

MTI would like to make sure that the toy you are proposing meets their targeted audience. 

One way we can be certain that your toy is marketable is to do some marketing research. Your team will find at least three similar toys or toys with a similar theme currently being marketed to children ages 6 - 10.

You must find toys from three different sources. You can choose three websites, newspaper flyers or magazines or any combination of the three for your examples.

Note the source of each sample toy.

You will create a one page document with the three toys. This paper should be placed in your corporate binder.

The original project also asks students to survey children in the targeted age group to determine what they like in a toy. We were unable to implement this because of restrictions at our local elementary school. You may need to check ahead of time to find out if a  local school or classroom can help your class with surveys.

In this video I share my thoughts about how much time to spend on the similar toy research.