SCAMPERing Into Engineering!

Contributor
Science and Children September 2016 Jenny Sue Flannagan and Margaret Sawyer
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Activity , Article , Lesson/Lesson Plan
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 activity, students use the SCAMPER brainstorming tool to design a car that can overcome air resistance. The SCAMPER strategy encourages students through a series of questions, to brainstorm things they could change or modify to make a difference in their original design.   Although the words criteria and constraints were not mentioned, the criteria of the project was to design a car that could move as far as possible with one breath of air only using four Lifesavers, two straws, two paper clips, scissors, tape, and a sheet of paper. SCAMPERing into Engineering is one lesson designed to extend the unit of forces and motion being taught in the classroom.

Intended Audience

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

- none -

Performance Expectations

3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
It is suggest in the Assessing Student Thinking section that the students do a set number of trials and graph the distance moved by their car during each trial. Using the S.C.A.M.P.E.R questioning strategy on page 38, students can modify and adapt their cars based on their own observations of what worked and what did not work to get the car to travel the farthest distance from one breath of air. It is also suggested that to fully meet this performance expectation, students formally note their reflection while comparing the multiple solutions they tried in their notebooks.

3-PS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.

Clarification Statement: Examples could include an unbalanced force on one side of a ball can make it start moving; and, balanced forces pushing on a box from both sides will not produce any motion at all.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to one variable at a time: number, size, or direction of forces. Assessment does not include quantitative force size, only qualitative and relative. Assessment is limited to gravity being addressed as a force that pulls objects down.

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 will build, test and refine their car using observations and discussion with peers to help them understand how one breath of air interacts with their design to make it travel farther. It is suggest to make connections between the breath of air as it interacts with their design and the concepts of forces and motion (mass and friction in particular) learned in the classroom, as well as kinetic and potential energy concepts. To best meet this performance expectation it is also suggested that the students reflect on balanced vs unbalanced forces and the use of an inconsistent force, their breath. Would it impact the results if one student blows harder than another?

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 is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
It is recommended for the teacher to use the word criteria as students are instructed to build a car of their own design that would move the farthest distance possible. It is also suggested that the word constraints be introduced as they tell the students they will be using limited materials: four Lifesavers candies, two straws, two paper clips, scissors, tape, a sheet of paper, and one breath of air. Students will then redesign the car based on their data collected.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students will construct models of cars that are able to be moved by air. It is suggested to allow the students time to interact and 'play' with the materials for while first before requiring them to more formally take measurements and reason about their changes.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students are given a chance to redesign their prototype after testing to determine if they had success and what needs to be changed to best meet the criteria of the problem. It is suggested that teachers clearly spell out the criteria and constraints to fully meet this core idea: design a car that moves the farthest distance possible, only using limited materials and their breath.

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students will design a car that is moved by air. To fully address this core idea it is suggested that discussion follows each trial where the student has to explain why the car is not moving at all before they blow on it. Students will need to understand that an object at rest typically has multiple forces acting on it but they add to give zero net force on the object. It is suggested the teacher discuss why the car moves when blown upon (i.e., the force of the air overcoming the effects of mass and friction)

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
To best meet this crosscutting concept, the teacher can question the students on the patterns they observe as they modify and improve their prototype.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
As the students test their design, they identify what caused their car to move or not move as they redesign to produce a change to make it go farther. It is suggested that this become a more formal part of journal writing where students are writing down their reasoning around what causes what.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson engages students in the science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts while providing them opportunities to design a vehicle that can move with a breath of air with limited supplies. A thorough chart on the physical science is included of what the student will know, understand and do at the end of the unit. Although this lesson is part of a larger unit on force and motion, there is more focus in this particular lesson on the engineering performance expectations. Although connections to the Practice of Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking and the Crosscutting Concept of Patterns identified on page 43 are not evident in this lesson, the teacher can question the students on the patterns they observe as they modify and improve their prototype.

  • Instructional Supports: Based on the Equip Rubric, this lesson engages students in a meaningful scenario and enables them to make sense of phenomena. It provides opportunities to express, clarify, interpret and represent their ideas and respond to peer and teacher feedback. The activity was also open-ended enough that it allowed a variety of approaches to the challenge based on student’s needs (see the reluctant student described on page 40). A SCAMPER chart with over 35 questions for the students and teacher to use to assist in the design process is included to help the students brainstorm new ideas to modify or change their design to make it better. A brainstorming sheet which can be modified to fit the needs of the class is included: http://www.nsta.org/elementaryschool/connections/201609TTTB3-5StudentBrainstormingSheet-TheBackpackDilemma.pdf The instructional supports could be enhanced by including more structured guidance on how to have students making and reflecting on observations, measuring, and then reflecting on those measurements in a journal or notebook.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: At the conclusion of the lesson, students are assessed using a 3-2-1 exit ticket. Students share 3 things they observed about their car, two questions they still had about cars or designs, and one thing they wanted to change. Although the lesson highlights opportunities for informal formative assessment throughout following the SCAMPER questioning tool, the author offers possible opportunities for more formal assessments such as graphing the distance moved during a set number of trials. Frequent check-ins with teacher and peers help to assess if students are on the right track. Although the authors focus more on informal formative assessments throughout the lesson, they do suggest some formal assessment opportunities that teachers can add. Students can run trials and graph the distance moved by their car during each trial and/or write a detailed analysis of the design and movement of their car which can be part of a cross-curricular activity. Students can use photographic evidence of each step in the design process and integrate technology into the unit as well through a computer presentation.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This lesson does not include technological interactivity.