Reflection: Standards Alignment Designing a Solar Car Part 1 - Section 4: Communicate the Design Problem


Engineers and designers commonly use a document called a Design Brief as a form of communication. The Design Brief outlines the responsibilities of the designer with an eye on the designer/client shared solution to the design problem. The Design Brief typically includes design constraints, budgets, time, and contractual terms. I have used a Design Brief to help students understand how a project is laid out but my success was limited. It was a fill-in-the-blank document that didn't have the rigor I was seeking. When the integration of the Common Core Standards began, I adjusted the purpose of the Design Brief and began to pull in contemporary articles. I asked students to explain why the design problem is important. With the change, the student writing improved dramatically.

I use a Write to Learn strategy frequently because it is a great way to have students practice writing and its easy to assess student understanding. My students typically hate to write but when I explain the assignment is only three to five sentences, they feel much better about the writing. I start by asking, "How should we start this summary?" The class offers suggestions of how to open the summary. 

Usually a funny thing happens. The kids will be writing away and ask, "Can I go over three sentences?" I say, "I guess if you have to but I really don't want you to write a whole essay." They look at me earnestly and say, "I won't. I promise I'll try to be short."

By allowing them to write short organized summaries, I am helping them to be succinct and to develop their writing skills. 

  Summary Writing
  Standards Alignment: Summary Writing
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Designing a Solar Car Part 1

Unit 9: Designing for the Future: Designing a Solar Car
Lesson 1 of 7

Objective: SWBAT design and test a solar car in an effort to any the question, "Can solar cars be the transportation of the future?"

Big Idea: The reliance of fossil fuels for transportation has become a global issue. Is solar energy a great hope for the transportation industry? Students design and test the a solar car to determine how the design of the car has an effect on its performance.

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