Chemical Reaction Vehicles

Contributor
Wendy Smith , Jesse Meyer
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
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 engineering design challenge, students use their knowledge of science to help design and build a vehicle that is powered solely by a chemical reaction. First, they figure out the most effective combination of substances and water to create a reaction that will propel their vehicle. Then they use the engineering design process to design, test, and improve the vehicle.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 5
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Available for purchase - The right to view, keep, and/or download material upon payment of a one-time fee.

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 is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This lesson explicitly addresses the performance expectation as students are testing variables in fair tests. For example, they test the amount of chemicals, the amount of water, the temperature of the water and the size of the vehicle container. One variable at a time is tested, and data is recorded in science notebooks. In order to help students learn from each other, the teacher might ask students to share their designs and give feedback to each other prior to and after testing.

5-PS1-4 Conduct an investigation to determine whether the mixing of two or more substances results in new substances.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

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

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Working in small groups, students conduct an investigation to determine whether or not mixing two or more substances resulted in a new substance. They explore what indicators will provide evidence that a chemical change occurred and construct explanations based on their data. To deepen their understanding, students might participate in a science talk where they discuss their results and explanations. “How were their explanations the same? Different? Why do they think this happened?”

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 are encouraged to compare their findings throughout the lesson. The comparison of group data might be easier if a class data table is created.

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

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
During this lesson, students were instructed to change only one variable at a time (i.e., conduct fair tests) as they tested different combinations of substances to determine which was the best for powering their vehicle. At the end of the lesson, the teacher might ask students to reflect on their use of fair tests, using their experiences to explain why it is important to change only one variable at a time.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students have multiple opportunities to test and improve their designs throughout this lesson. In addition to drawing and recording their tests and results in their notebooks, students could take photos or videos. These will be useful when they reflect on their design process, and how and why they changed their designs in attempts to improve them.

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In this investigation, students mix multiple substances to come up with a new substance that will power their vehicles. A class chart listing all of the mixtures tested by students could be created to compile the results. This will allow students to easily compare which substances might be mixed to provide the most power for their vehicles. The chart would also be useful during a science talk in which students discuss their findings.

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
During the lesson, students identified cause-and-effect relationships between the substances used in the vehicle chamber and the effectiveness of the gas formation as well as the relationships between failure points, vehicle design, and human error. The teacher may need to explicitly point out cause and effect relationships. At the end of the lesson, students could be asked to identify cause and effect examples based on their investigations and design experiences. These could be compiled on a cause and effect chart.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Students have multiple opportunities to engage in all three dimensions as they investigate, collect and record data on chemical reactions, identify cause and effect relationships, and use the engineering design process and their scientific knowledge to solve a problem. One suggestion might be to hold a mini-conference for other grade 5 classes where students share results of their work as well as their reflections. Doing so would provide an opportunity for students to communicate and engage in scientific discussions.

  • Instructional Supports: This lesson engages students in a meaningful experience that integrates science and engineering. Multiple opportunities are provided for students to express and share their ideas. Suggestions for differentiated instruction are provided.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The lesson includes a student assessment checklist and self reflection. A formative assessment could be given to students prior to the lesson, perhaps asking them to write a response to the question: “What do you think a chemical reaction is? How do we know when a chemical reactions is happening? Explain your thinking.” Quick formative assessments could also be used throughout the project (such as exit tickets, review of student notebooks, etc.).

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