“The Engineering Design Process is a series of steps engineers use to guide them in problem
solving. Engineers must ask a question, imagine a solution, plan a design, create that model,
experiment and test that model, then take time to improve the original – all steps that are crucial
to mission success at NASA. What makes this guide different from others is: (1) there are no
specific instructions or “recipes” for building the items; and (2) there are no given drawings. The
emphasis is for students to understand that engineers must “imagine and plan” before they begin
to build and experiment.” taken from NASA Best Guide.
“Drop an egg from a second story window without breaking it”
Crazy is the word students used when given this challenge. We modeled the lesson using NASA explorers lesson, “NEWTON’S LAWS OF MOTION: LUNAR NAUTICS” which is located on the NES website and a lesson I obtained from Honeywell Educators Space Camp. Collaborating with Physics teacher Angie Melcher, we combined physic and earth science students into groups. This was done randomly, we figured for the first time this might be a good idea. After getting the students settled into their groups we prepared them for the activity. Around 200 students took part in this challenge!
This is when we introduced the Engineering Design Packet we obtained form NASA eClips website. Using the design process we informed students what their goal was and the parameters they would have to follow. Build a lander and rover, the lander had to protect the rover which carried an egg or as we say “egg-o-naut” . We would drop the lander, with the rover inside, from a second story window.
Student painted Canvas, physics student Jason did a great job on our drop zone canvas.
Students were given a list of materials before they started (see below). They were allowed 100 total credits for both the lander and rover. The original lesson called for 100 each, but we thought that might be a bit too much and we wanted to challenge our students a bit more. Teachers signed off on any items purchased by the groups.
We purchased all materials prior to the introducing the project and this also gave us a chance to change any materials. For example, wheels became a popular item among the students, we gave them a couple of options. We purchased some K-Cup tops something different from the original materials. Another item we included that was not listed in the original project sheet, were bottle caps. We included all types, students preferred the the caps from PowerAde or Gatorade bottles, they became the favorites for wheels. Oh and one thing, no parachutes! Yep they didn’t like that, but we were landing on the Moon and not Mars. All the items were purchased from Amazon, for decent prices. Side note, make sure you have enough cardboard tubes, they like this material for the rover body, we ran out.
(Taken from Honeywell Educators Space Camp, AMY BARTLETT, NASA MESSENGER FELLOW, RAYMOND S. KELLIS H.S., MARE GILMORE, M.Ed., LIED CHILDREN’S MUSEUM)
Grading and rubric was included with all the materials handed out to students. The engineering design packet had its own rubric, but we decided to to include our own rubric. Ms. Melcher, did all of the work on this part, she included some of the original categories. Students were given the rubric before they started the build, so they knew how we were assessing them.
This whole project represented the future standards in science. We definitely could incorporate the Next Generation Standards into this project. The engineering packet guided the students throughout the process. It was originally geared to middle school, but we adjusted it for high school students. One of the main changes we made was to make the project more of a PBL lesson, we guided the students but did not become too involved. Pretty much we allowed them to think outside the box. It also went much smoother with two teachers involved due to the number of students participating in the activity. We have already started thinking about next year and what we are going to change. Special thanks to Angie Melcher for all her work.
Next Blog will continue with the actual building part and DLN..……