Reflection: Classroom Setup Engineering Design Project: Parachutes (Day 2) - Section 2: Building


Materials Center 

I chose to allow students to work at their own pace and test the variables in any order they would like.  Because there are so many variables being tested and materials being used, the room can get quite messy if some guidelines are not put into place.  I have a half circle table in the room that I used as the material center. All materials for this project were housed here.  Groups could not come get new materials until they had the data collected for the variable they just tested.  They must return all items that will not be used for their final project. 

For example, if group A is testing the material of their canopy, they would get a medium circle canopy made of paper, plastic, and cloth.  After testing them all three times and recording the data, they will return the two canopies that did not fall the slowest, keeping the one that did, to use for their final parachute. 

Doing the activity this way keeps the materials organized and allows groups to plan and test in the order they want.  It puts more responsibility on them to keep their work organized and to track their own time.

Was This Strategy Effective 

Having a material table was effective because everything could be found in one location.  I had to choose a couple of students each day to reorganize the materials though because it got quite messy around the table.  I also found that groups were returning everything to the table, even scraps of plastic and paper that were too small to be used for anything.  

I only had one item for tracing small circles, medium circles, and large circles as well as one item for tracing small squares, medium squares, and large squares.  I was surprised that groups were not waiting on each other to finish with these items but I think it was because there were already canopies of each size made on the material table.  After groups use them, if they were the best shape or size, they were placed back on the material table which allows other groups to reuse them.  This helped save time as well because each group did not have to trace and cut out all canopies.  

Station Rotations

Another way this project could have been done is to set up stations for each variable being tested.  Groups could rotate around with a certain time limit at each station.  This would help keep all materials separated into their own location and organized.  It would also help ensure that all groups are spread out around the room as to not interfere with each other's work.  

One down fall to doing it this way, is that some groups may take longer then others.  If the time in each station is limited then groups may not finish their testing before it is time to rotate, or some groups may finish early and be waiting on others.  


  Managing So Many Variables
  Classroom Setup: Managing So Many Variables
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Engineering Design Project: Parachutes (Day 2)

Unit 4: Motion, Forces and Interactions
Lesson 9 of 11

Objective: SWBAT follow the steps of the engineering design process to create the best parachute to slow down the affects of the force of gravity.

Big Idea: Students work in teams to test and build a parachute that will take the longest to reach the ground.

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