Reflection: Standards Alignment Design a Nuclear Waste Facility 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 the 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 looking for. 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. 

Engineering design lends itself well to Common Core writing because the writing is authentic. My students chose to design a nuclear waste facility. I want them to tell me why it is important. The best way of doing this is in a summary. Summary writing is authentic in science. We like statistics and we state the facts. In my planning I incorporated interesting articles. I use the strategy called Write to Learn. Instead of a Design Brief, students write a summary and state a position backed by evidence. 

  Integrating Common Core Writing
  Standards Alignment: Integrating Common Core Writing
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Design a Nuclear Waste Facility Part 1

Unit 8: Designing for the Future: Nuclear Waste Facility
Lesson 1 of 5

Objective: SWBAT describe why designing a nuclear waste facility is an important design problem.

Big Idea: Design matters for human health and safety. To understand how the use of nuclear energy can impact society, students work to explain why it is important to design a nuclear waste facility.

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