Waterproof The Roof

Contributor
discovere.org Carnegie Science Center IEEE MacGillivray Freemans Dream Big
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Experiment/Lab Activity , Instructor Guide/Manual , Lesson/Lesson Plan , Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

In this engineering activity, students are challenged to design and construct a roof that will protect a cardboard house from getting wet.   The criteria and constraints for the design is that students need to develop a roofing system for a house that can prevent water from entering with limited materials. 

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 4
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

3-5-ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students place their newly roofed house on a sheet of newspaper for the water test. After the roof is sprayed with water, the students will lift up the house and see if the newspaper underneath became wet. The students are given two more opportunities to redesign and retest for leaks. It is suggested that the students have prior experience working with variables and changing one variable at a time, considering any failure points where the water may have leaked through their roof as they redesign. In order to carry out a fair test of the roofing material, the number of times each roof prototype is sprayed, the amount of water that is used in each test, and the distance that the sprayer is held from the rooftop need to be controlled.

3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
To best meet this performance expectation, students should clearly know the criteria and constraints of the problem. Criteria: design and construct a roof that will protect a cardboard house and keep the newspaper underneath it dry from water leakage. Constraints: students are given assorted roofing materials to work with. It is suggested that clear criteria for success be discussed prior to the activity. Students should draw the structural design of their idea as well labeling which materials they will be using.

3-ESS3-1 Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.

Clarification Statement: Examples of design solutions to weather-related hazards could include barriers to prevent flooding, wind resistant roofs, and lightning rods.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
To make this performance expectation more explicit, it is recommended that students more formally research and communicate with each other the variety of roofs they see in their community and how these roofs, and their pitch, keep the owners safe and dry. A read aloud picture book called My House by Arthur Dorros illustrates houses from around the world and why they are built the way they are built. It is also suggested to explain to students that when their roof is tested with a spray bottle of water, the water can represent a very heavy rainstorm and they will need to reduce the impact of rainfall in a short amount of time. The teacher can decide if they want to use the spray bottle to test for leaks, or place the houses into a plastic tub and drop a measured amount of water directly onto the roofs. It is suggested to have two plastic tubs with the top one having small holes to allow the water to leak through and not be absorbed into the cardboard houses. Students can then make a claim about what they know as they design their roof. If time allows, students could conduct tests before the roof prototypes are built to see which materials are the least absorbent and allow water to run off easily like materials engineers do on page 4.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
To best meet this practice it is suggested that students use a more formal notebooking than was suggested for this lesson. In the early stages of the activity after the students research and learn about various types of roofs, students should be given the opportunity to design their roof in their notebook or science journal prior to building. Planning out their design and writing down exactly what they do for each step is important for students to be able to reflect on what they observed each time they tested their roof. Students need to formally collect data on how the things they changed resulted in different outcomes. Students could be answering questions about which materials worked best and what evidence/data they have that supports the claim. A variation is included in this lesson that suggests the students all use the same building materials, but vary the design and roof pitch. This could be another option that would give the students more exposure to working with variables.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
To best meet this core idea students need to reflect on an failure points and what they need to do to improve their design. What materials did you use for your roof? Did you change the shape of your roof? Did you find any areas of weakness in your design? What characteristics of the materials you decided to use were the most important?

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
It is suggested to make this lesson more explicit the teacher relate natural hazards in the real world to home and roof safety. Although we cannot stop damaging rainfall, we can build better roofs to keep the water outside. It is suggested to show the students a picture of leaking roof as a way to engage the students prior to the lesson. What do you see in this picture? Why is the water coming into the home in that particular spot? Is this damage from a typical rain storm or possibly a hurricane? What can the home owners do to stop the rain? What can they do to protect their home from getting wet inside? http://www.4brothersbuyhouses.com/4-warning-signs-roof-leaks-avoid/

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students consider the different shapes and materials used in the roofs they see in their community and discuss how roof shapes serve different purposes depending on different climates. What would happen if one foot of snow fell on a flat roof? The structure and function connection should be brought up explicitly and often in this lesson.

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
It is suggested to make this lesson more aligned to this crosscutting concept, the students formally keep notes and diagrams in their science journal. They can write down their reasoning around what caused what as they test, identify failure points, and redesigned their roof. Reflecting on observations of what happened with their own roof as well as their peers would enhance student learning of this crosscutting concept.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: If elements of the tips are included, this activity provides the students opportunities to use the practice, disciplinary core idea, and crosscutting concept to make sense of a phenomena and to design a solution to solve the problem of roof leakage. It is recommended that some of the activity variations included in the resource be integrated as it will result in a more rigorous design challenge.

  • Instructional Supports: The context, questions, and problem presented motivate students to use an authentic real world experience to make sense of a design solution. Students have the opportunity to engage in a real-world connection to the job of a materials engineer. Post-activity questions will enable students to reflect upon their three dimensional learning. It is suggested for students to have more time to reflect about their designs and respond to peer and teacher feedback. Activity variations and troubleshooting various problems the students may encounter are included in this lesson. To make this resource stronger, it is suggested to include a rubric assessing the following 4 ideas to help support students as they work toward their goal: (1) the prototype drawing and labels, (2) the evidence the students used to support their decision for using the material that they chose, (3) the amount of water that entered (or did not enter) the structure, and (4) were they able to identify problem areas and redesign their prototype to address the issue(s). It is suggested to be certain students are collecting and using data/evidence to support their claims which the instructional supports do not adequately detail.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Student engagement in the investigation elicits direct observable formative evidence of student learning. It is suggested that more formal investigation and data collection be embedded into the activity as suggested in the tips. An aligned rubric could be created that where students measure how much water actually falls through their house during each trial which could provide ongoing feedback for the students.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no technological interactivity in this resource.