Designing Circuits: Hidden Alarm

Contributor
PBS Design Squad
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Activity , 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 lesson students use the engineering design process to develop a solution to a problem: how to use a circuit to create a hidden alarm.  Students are encouraged to develop their own ideas of what problems they want to solve with their alarms. They may want to protect a lunch box, a “treasure chest” or a locker.

For an introductory lesson plan on circuits, see the related resource, Circuits and Electric Light, http://ngss.nsta.org/Resource.aspx?ResourceID=48

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

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

Performance Expectations

4-PS3-4 Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

Clarification Statement: Examples of devices could include electric circuits that convert electrical energy into motion energy of a vehicle, light, or sound; and, a passive solar heater that converts light into heat. Examples of constraints could include the materials, cost, or time to design the device.

Assessment Boundary: Devices should be limited to those that convert motion energy to electric energy or use stored energy to cause motion or produce light or sound.

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
This activity encourages students to design, test, and refine their alarm systems using an electric circuit. Time should be allowed for students to wrestle with building the circuit, making it work in its hidden location, and redesigning to improve it. To more fully address this Performance Expectation, students should discuss and/or write about how energy is being converted from one form to another.

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
This activity is open-ended enough to allow students to define their own problems and develop and refine their solutions based on the criteria they choose for success (how the alarm is activated, where it is hidden) and constraints (time, materials). The teacher may want to guide students in brainstorming problems to solve using guiding questions.: What might people need to use an alarm for? Why would you want to hide your alarm?

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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
In order to highlight this disciplinary core idea, students should share their ideas about how energy is being transferred in the system. The teacher may guide the discussion with questions such as, where does the energy come from? (The battery.) How is it transferred? (It moves in the electric circuit and creates a sound in the buzzer which spreads out in the room.)

Crosscutting Concepts

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
In order to address this crosscutting concept, the teacher will need to highlight the idea that energy is being transferred in the system as it moves from the battery to the buzzer to the surrounding air.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This engineering challenge encourages students to use their understanding of circuits to design a solution to a problem. In this way, the disciplinary core idea, engineering practices and crosscutting concepts are integrated. For more ideas on creating alarms, and literacy connections to the book, Dear Mr. Henshaw, visit https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/make_an_alarm

  • Instructional Supports: This activity includes real-world problem solving based on student ideas. The worksheet includes an explanation of open and closed circuits, but students should explore circuits on their own to build this necessary prior knowledge. There are no specific scaffolds or extensions provided, although there are related lessons in the unit. Students who need help getting started may watch the related video: http://pbskids.org/designsquad/video/hidden-alarm-challenge/

  • Monitoring Student Progress: This activity does not include explicit guidelines for monitoring student progress, although the “Discuss What Happened” section provides an informal assessment. The teacher may wish to develop a rubric with criteria for success, possibly through a class discussion of criteria for success.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This resource does not include a technologically interactive component.