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  • A Chair for Mr. Bear
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How can the EDP or engineering design practices be incorporated into this activity?

Comment: In the comment field please comment of how this activity went for you, how long it took, how long you expected it to take, if there were any other materials that you would have wanted to have, how your was teacher involved in this activity, if it was age/grade level appropriate for the students and any other comments about this activity you think are important for the next person to use this activity to know.



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Microsoft Word 97 Document Lesson_BearChair.doc A helpful guide about how to apply the Engineering Design Process to this activity Oct 12, 2011 by Victoria Heather Sims


  1. 4th Grade Class: 

    Our class was reading Charlotte's Web, so we made the activity: Build a seat for Fern to sit on while she watches Wilbur every day after school. We used the activity to outline the steps in the Engineering Design Process. 

    Research: Print out pictures of different kinds of chairs and post them around the room. Have students write down observations about each chair and use those observations to help their brainstorming and solution selection steps. 

    Introduction to NXT kit. 

  2. Building for this activity can take longer than expected, especially if the students have not worked with LEGOs before. Allow more time than you think for this activity. 

  3. Argenziano School, 5th Grade, Ms. Hong (Fall 2011):

    We did this activity as the students’ first exposure to LEGO NXT kits because we wanted the students to be familiar and comfortable with putting together NXT pieces. We encouraged the kids to use the NXT “brick” as a base for the chair and to connect other pieces to it to secure the bear. 

    Because the Ms. Hong specifically told us that they were learning about the solar system, we “modified” the activity by saying that the bears were actually astronauts who are about to travel into space. The kids’ job was to create a chair that will make the astronauts safe. They bear had to stay on the chair when the chair was shaken.

    The kids worked in partners and first had to draw what they wanted the chair to look like. A lot of kids had a problem with this first step, most likely because they were not familiar enough with the LEGO NXT pieces to even think of how to build a chair out of it. However, once they became comfortable with the pieces, many of the groups were successfully able to build a chair that passed the shake test.

    Many of the kids were stuck because they were not familiar with the pieces. One thing that’s really helpful when using NXT kits for this activity is to show the groups some of the tricks on how to put pieces together, especially attaching beams to the side of the NXT brick. It is not intuitive to all the students how to use the pieces so it is good to give them hints on what pieces/connections are especially helpful for their task. 

    If a lot of the groups get stuck, it is also helpful to build a small example of how the chair might look like. Because the kids were unfamiliar with the pieces, it was hard for some of them to even think of building a chair out of the LEGOs. 

    Overall, this activity was successful even if we did not use regular LEGO pieces. It is a good way to get students familiarized with building.

  4. We did this activity without NXTs in a 5th grade classroom in JQS.  We brought three red tubs of random legos which seemed to be plenty.  We also brought a worksheet where the students had room to draw and explain their concept before it was build, and do the same with their final product.  Although we gave the students well over half of the class time to build because we wanted them to test (specifically the drop test) and be able to build again, most students were not entirely finished by the end and we were forced to test partially unfinished products.  There was not any time for redesigning.  Some groups were more inventive than others.  Cool ideas included a recliner and a servant.  Drop test was the most challenging for some of them.  We would recommend that you pass the bear around during building because some chairs were designed to small.  (Maybe a smaller bear would solve this problem?).  Other than that, the activity was a good introduction to designing with constraints.