Reflection: Grappling with Complexity Day 1- Engineering and Design: Zip Line - Section 4: Explore



In this lesson, students applied the Engineering and design process as they were given the task to transport a ping pong ball on a zip line. They were given specific criteria and constraints to accomplish this task.  These two pieces are significant in helping students develop an understanding that in the real world, criteria and constraints are factors that affect scientists theories, plans, and notions.

Since this was a new process for my students, I introduced each step of the process one at a time. First, I presented them with the problem- successfully carrying a ping pong ball down a zip line in less than six seconds. With initial problem presented, I guided them with some background information about zip lines. We viewed a video that illustrated how they work, forces that impact objects that move on it, and discussed their overall purpose.  From there, my students identified several forces that they needed to consider while designing a prototype. Once students identified these forces, I had them collaborate in creating two designs to possible test and discuss together which one they would move forward with and why.  This provided them opportunity to collaborate and communicate with one another, skills necessary as scientists. After discussion, they selected a design to use. Together they used a variety of materials to build a prototype. Continuing with the engineering and design process, groups tested their design by conducting three trials and recording the data. They used this data to consider improvements to their design and test again.  With redesigns and retests, students were able to meet the criteria for the Zip Line.

I found my students were very engaged throughout the entire process. They were creative in their designs to transport the ping pong ball from one end of a zip line to another. Teamwork was evidence during the lesson and their communication as a group was impressive. I attribute their successes with the collaborative work and perseverance to meet the criteria.


  Engineering Design Process
  Grappling with Complexity: Engineering Design Process
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Day 1- Engineering and Design: Zip Line

Unit 6: Forces and Motions
Lesson 7 of 8

Objective: SWBT use the terms force, friction, motion, and gravity to explain a zipline

Big Idea: Students will design a zip line that can transport a small object at least 1.5 meters from the top to the bottom under six seconds.

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