Reflection: Problem-based Approaches Dream Invention - Section 4: Explain


The Next Generation Science Standards include engineering design. The design process is one of the major shifts in science education. The Design Process differentiates engineering from scientific inquiry. Engineers use steps to move designs forward. One of the most important characteristics about the design process is that it is collaborative. The big idea is centered around social learning. Design must be collaborative because the best ideas do not come from just one person. My strategy is to capitalize on my student diversity to complete a design concept. The goals include bouncing ideas off of one another in an attempt to get to the best way to solve a problem given criteria. Diversity is a powerful strategy as students with different backgrounds bring their unique experiences to the table. 

The Dream Invention activity allows the students to work in flexible groups to inspire one another. I walk around the room, listening to conversations formatively assessing the Common Core speaking and listening standards. If a group is not communicating, I help them with specific questions. "Where are you stuck?" I have a list of questions for the students that need help communicating about ideas. My questions include:

  1. What is your idea?
  2. What has been invented that is like your idea?
  3. What can we do to make your idea better?
  4. I have an idea.
  5. Let's think about..." 

 The students discuss their inventions and share ideas for understanding how science, technology engineering and math are used. They also think together about how their invention can be used to make the world a better place. Students inspire one another as they work together. My flexible groups are not evidence for learning, they are collaborative information-gathering groups.

I ask students "Do you think engineers come up with one idea or multiple ideas?" My strategy is to encourage them to stretch past their initial good idea and make it better. I ask them to explain why one of the choices they made is better.

Increasingly content specialists are asked to support good writing and reading. My strategy for incorporating Common Core Writing is to ask students to write a fake quote and a fake statistic. I want to support my students in their writing skills by demonstrating how quotes and statistics can legitimize their writing. 


There are many different steps of the design process, used by different organizations. Using the Next Generation Science Standards, I've developed a student friendly Steps in the Design Process, and include this in the resources.


  Problem-based Approaches: The Design Process
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Dream Invention

Unit 1: Exploring Engineers and the Design Process
Lesson 2 of 6

Objective: SWBAT use the design process to dream up an original invention or innovation and create a persuasive poster to sell it.

Big Idea: If your students could invent anything, what steps would they need to invent it? Take a look at how inventors dream up the future and then make it happen.

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