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How can the EDP or engineering design practices be incorporated into this activity?

Central Concept: Engineering design is an iterative process that involves modeling and 

optimizing to develop technological
solutions to problems within given constraints.

2.1    Identify and explain the steps of the engineering design process, i.e., identify the need 
or problem, research the problem, develop possible solutions, select the best possible solution(s), 
construct a prototype, test and evaluate, communicate the solution(s), and redesign. 
2.2    Demonstrate methods of representing solutions to a design problem, e.g., sketches, 
orthographic projections, multiview drawings.
2.3    Describe and explain the purpose of a given prototype.
2.4    Identify appropriate materials, tools, and machines needed to construct a prototype
of a given engineering design. 
2.5    Explain how such design features as size, shape, weight, function, and cost limitations 
would affect the construction of a given prototype.

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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  1. For our class, we did two challenges-- the first was to build the tallest tower and the second was to build the strongest tower that could withstand a few books.

    A few things of note:

    -we are in an ESL class, so many kids missed what we were saying. The idea that the resources were limited was frustrating for a lot of them. Some kids tried to use materials from their own desks to build. We also had to spend a lot of time going over what a tower even was.

    -The kids took much longer with the first part than we expected. We can probably chalk this up to the language barrier, since many kids had to rebuild when they realized what the prompt really was.

    -Many kids surprised us with how different (and structurally sound) their tall towers vs their strong towers were. Interestingly, many of the kids who excelled with this were students who struggled with NXTs. This is a great activity to break up programming and let kids of different ability levels shine. 

    -Competition gets these kids going. The class got a little rowdy, so be prepared. 

  2. The students were given one sheet of paper, 4 paper clips, and a foot of tape. The story given at the beginning involved mars (the theme of the semester) and the students had to build a tower to be able to communicate with the earth. It had to be sturdy and the challenge was to make the tallest tower. Make sure to be clear about the constraints, like the fact that the tower has to be able to stay up on its own; it cannot be taped to the table. It was cool to see some of the students using the paper clips at the top of the tower because their explanation was that there needed to be some metal at the top like they have seen on other wireless towers. We did this activity in 30 minutes because the other 30 minutes of this class was devoted to a post test.