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Activity Name:

Service Learning (General)

How long did it take?

various (at least 3 STOMP sessions of about an hour each, if not more)


Vocabulary to know about for this activity:

Background/Things to know about for this activity:

Preparation (what should one do to prepare)::
Talk to the teacher in advance to gauge students' interest and learn more about topics they may be discussing in other subjects.

Procedure (how to go about the activity):

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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  1. Ms. Burn's 4th grade class, Healey school, Fall 2012

    We planned a service learning activity that lasted about 3 STOMP sessions (of 45 minutes each). We wanted the focus of the activity to be about the first part of the Engineering design process (determining a problem, figuring out constraints, designing a solution). We also wanted the students to focus on problems around them. 

    Week 1: Determining the problem
    We asked the students to think about problems that they wanted to solve at their own school. They took a few minutes to think about the problem themselves, then they talked with neighbors to discuss their ideas. We then had a class discussion to brainstorm the different ideas we wanted to solve. As a class, we narrowed the list of problems to four, keeping in mind the time and financial constraints (ex. we can't solve problems that only require us to buy more things).

    By vote, the students chose to redesign the dangerous monkey bars in their playground where Kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade students play. We also determined that within that problem are subproblems on which they could focus (ex. the height of the monkey bars, the ground where the kids fall, etc)

    Week 2: Figuring out constraints, preliminary design
    Prepartion: Because we did not think we had time or resources to build full-scale solutions to our problem, we built a small model of the playground and brought it to the classroom. If the students wanted to redesign the playground or add structures to it, they would only need to build it to the scale of the model. 

    In class, we introduced the idea of constraints or limitations (we described "limitations" as the things that will limit what you can do to solve the problem). We asked the students to think of limitations and also introduced others that limitations. We came up with the following: money, weather/temperature, space. 
    We also talked about users and what their specific users characteristics and needs are. Since the monkey bars are being used by the younger students, we asked kids to focus on designing for little kids who may not be able to read and might have not have fully developed motor coordination.

    The discussion took more time than anticipated (more than half of our 45 minutes). In the last half of class, we provided students with sheets were they could draw their proposed solution, given the users and constraints in mind. The sheet asked them to determine specifically what problem they were solving, to describe/draw their solution and to list the materials they thought they would need. We then collected these sheets at the end of class.

    Week 3: Design and Building
    Prepartion: Before coming to class, we looked at the designs proposed by the students and wrote comments. Mostly, we wrote questions challenging students to think about the constraints they might not have considered (ex. the weather). We then looked at their designs to gauge what types of materials we might need.

    In class, we asked the students to look at the comments/questions we wrote and re-think their design if necessary. We then asked students to pick up materials once they were done re-designing. The students spent the remaining time building, though many students did not finish due to time constraints.

    What worked/what didn't:
    I think that the students learned a lot from our discussion of the problem and limitations because it was something that we did not discuss all semester. However, I definitely wish we had more time. The discussion on constraints went well on the 2nd week, but it took up a lot of time and it meant that they had little time to think about design Also, due to the nature of the problem that the students chose to solve, many of the solutions did not require a lot of time to design or implement (many solutions involved sticking something soft in the ground to prevent injuries from falling off the monkey bars) and called for materials we did not have . It might have been better to give students a problem that could have more creative solutions. However, having the students pick a problem also made them more invested in the project.