Build a Toy

Contributor
American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Jacob Crosby, William Surles, Eszter Horanyi, Jonathan McNeil, Malinda Schaefer Zarske, Carleigh Samson
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 hands-on activity, students apply the engineering design process to create prototype toys with moving parts. They set up electric circuits using batteries, wire, and motors, and plan project materials to meet budget constraints. This activity is designed to follow students previous investigations working with resistors and electrical circuits. It could also be used as an investigation of energy transfer.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
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-ETS1-2 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
Students will brainstorm and then generate solutions as they work to solve the challenge of building a toy with moving parts. Students will sketch their ideas in their notebooks prior to redesigning to improve their solutions. It is suggested that student groups present and share their different solutions and compare how each group met the criteria and constraints of the challenge.

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
Students will use math and science knowledge to design and build toys with moving parts. They will apply their scientific knowledge of electrical circuits to their toy design. Prior to the activity, it is important to review that moving objects (toys) have an electric circuit with a closed loop that current can travel through, as well as a voltage or power source. Questions to discuss with students: What do you think could be used as a voltage source for your toy designs? (students will be using batteries) What is an example of a resistor that you have seen in past lessons and activities? (light bulb) How will your toy be turned on and off? More discussion about energy conversion is needed to help students make the connection that their toy design will be converting energy from one form to another. A suggestion could be to have the students create models (diagrams) of the energy transformations in the toys in their notebooks.

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 applying the engineering design process to a design challenge. They use math and science as they create and brainstorm a plan for their project design. Students need prior experiences with electric circuits using batteries, wire, and a motor. They might discuss the science behind the pictures and toys in the included slide show prior to creating their own toy devices so they can see examples of how energy is transferred to make various toys move. https://www.teachengineering.org/content/cub_/activities/cub_electricity/cub_electricity_lesson05_activity3_toy_presentation.pdf

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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
Students will use math and science knowledge to design and build toys with moving parts. They will be applying their scientific knowledge of electrical circuits to their toy design. More discussions and investigations about energy transfer is needed to help students connect the learning that their toy design will be converting energy from one form to another. It is suggested that students figure out the transfer of energy connection themselves. Possibly allow students to investigate with a solar powered calculator or a hair dryer and have groups figure out the transfer of energy in each object.

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students are given specific criteria (the toy must move and be fun to play with) and constraints (materials and cost) for the design challenge. In the test stage, students are asked to describe how well their toy worked. It is important for students to reflect and write in their notebook/worksheet what worked and what didn’t work before they redesign their toys after testing. What are two things you can change about your toy to make it work better? It is suggested that students write the different ideas they have in their notebooks to use for class discussion and comparison.

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
In the introduction, students consider about how modern toys incorporate electronics to make toys fun and engaging. Engineers apply their math and science skills making toys that work well and are entertaining, inexpensive, and durable. Students can brainstorm favorite toys they have or know of. What features do these toys have? In the design challenge, students can reflect on how their redesigns affect the toy and its ability to meet the criteria.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource provides opportunities to develop and use specific elements of the science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts. Students are engaged as design toys that are fun and move. Connections to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and/or English Language Arts are evident as students use pricing costs and are challenged to develop a sales pitch or advertisement for their completed toy design. To make the activity more three-dimensional, discussions on how energy is converted from one form to another should be included.

  • Instructional Supports: This resource engages students in an authentic scenario that reflects the integration of science and engineering in the real world toy industry. Students design a solution to a problem. Opportunities to express and represent their ideas throughout the design challenge in their notebooks and design worksheets are encouraged. Inexpensive motors can be purchased at places like Radio Shack or Amazon.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Activity scaling for lower and upper grades in included with this resource. Additional resources and activities are linked for further interest in toy design. It is suggested to have the students/class create a rubric for their final project in which they present their toys explaining how the electrical circuit and motor worked and how their toy converted energy from one form to another. Students can also explain how they used the engineering design process.

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