4.1.2.1 Practice of Engineering

Grade: 
4
Subject:
Science
Strand:
Nature of Science & Engineering
Substrand:
The Practice of Engineering
Standard 4.1.2.1

Engineers design, create and develop structures, processes and systems that are intended to improve society and may make humans more productive.

Benchmark: 4.1.2.1.1 Impact of Designed World

Describe the positive and negative impacts that the designed world has on the natural world as more and more engineered products and services are created and used.

Overview

Standard in Lay Terms 

MN Standard in Lay Terms

Engineers try to solve problems and meet people's needs.

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

Big Idea

Science, Engineering, and Technology:

What is the difference between science, engineering, and technology?  How do they interrelate?  Here are a few simple ways to distinguish between and relate these fields.

Source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science:

  • A body of knowledge
  • Seeks to describe and understand the natural world and its physical properties
  • Scientific knowledge can be used to make predictions
  • Science uses a process - the scientific method - to generate knowledge.

Engineering:

  • Design under constraint
  • Seeks solutions for societal problems and needs
  • Aims to produce the best solution given resources and constraints
  • Engineering uses a process - engineering design process - to produce solutions and technologies.

Technology:

  • The body of knowledge, systems, processes, and artifacts that result from engineering
  • Almost everything made by humans to solve a need or fulfill a want/desire is a technology
  • Examples of technology include pencils, shoes, cell phones, and processes to treat water.

In the real world, these disciplines are closely connected.  Scientists often use technologies created by engineers to conduct their research.  In turn, engineers often use knowledge developed by scientists to inform the design of the technologies they create.

Science, engineering, and technology are all situated in the context of a larger society that determines what science and engineering get done.  Human values, needs, and problems determine in large part what questions scientists investigate and what problems engineers tackle.  In turn, the technological products of science and engineering influence society and change human culture.  Source: EiE

The world we live in has been shaped in many important ways by human action.  We have created technological options to prevent, eliminate, or lessen threats to life and the environment and to fulfill social needs.  We have dammed rivers and cleared forests, made new materials and machines, covered vast areas with cities and highways, and decided - sometimes willy-nilly - the fate of many other living things.

In a sense, then, many parts of our world are designed - shaped and controlled, largely through the use of technology - in light of what we take our interests to be.  We have brought the earth to a point where our future well-being will depend heavily on how we develop and use and restrict technology.  In turn, that will depend heavily on how well we understand the workings of technology and the social, cultural, economic, and ecological systems within which we live.  Source: Project 2061: Chapter 8 - Designed World.  Atlas

Benchmark Cluster 

MN Standard Benchmarks

4.1.2.1.1  Describe the positive and negative impacts that the designed world has on the natural world as more and more engineered products and services are created and used.

The Essentials

Quote: "Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been." - Albert Einstein

Source

Correlations 

NSES Standards

SCIENCE AS INQUIRY STANDARDS - Levels K-4: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiryUnderstanding about scientific inquiry. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - Levels K-4: Abilities to distinguish between natural objects and objects made by humansAbilities of technological designUnderstanding about science and technology

Source

AAAS Atlas

  • Public Perception of Science, Grades 3-5: There is no perfect design.  Designs that are best in one respect (safety or ease of use, for example) may be inferior in other ways (cost or appearance).  Usually some features must be sacrified to get others. 3B/E1
  • Design Constraints, Grades 3-5: Factors such as cost, safety, appearance, environmental impact, and what will happen if the solution fails must be considered in technological design. 3C/4
  • Design Constraints, Grades K-2: When a group of people wants to build something or try something new, they should try to figure out ahead of time how it might affect other people. 3C/2
  • Interaction of Technology and Society, Grades K-2: People, alone or in groups, are always inventing new ways to solve problems and get work done.  The tools and ways of doing things that people have invented affect all aspects of life. 3C/1
  • Interaction of Technology and Society, Grades 3-5: Transportation, communications, nutrition, sanitation, health care, entertainment, and other technologies give large numbers of people today the goods and services that were once luxuries enjoyed only by the wealthy. 3C/3
  • Decisions About Using Technology, Grades 3-5: Technologies often have drawbacks as well as benefits.  A technology that helps some people or organisms may hurt others. 3C/5
  • Agricultural Technology, Grades 3-5: Modern technology has increased the efficiency of agriculture so that fewer people are needed to work on farms than ever before. 8A/4
  • Communication Technology, Grades 3-5: People have invented devices, such as paper and ink, engraved plastic disks, and magnetic tapes, for recording information.  These devices enable great amounts of information to be stored and retrieved - and be sent to other people or places. 8D/3

Source

Benchmarks of Science Literacy - Designed World

Agriculture:

By the end of the 5th grade, students should know that:

  • Modern technology has increased the efficiency of agriculture so that fewer people are needed to work on farms than ever before. 8A/E4

Materials and Manufacturing:

Students should also move from designing and making simple objects to designing, assembling, and operating a manufacturing system.  The importance of planning, coordination, and control should become as evident as the importance of selecting the most appropriate materials and processes.  Also evident will be the need for financing, sales, and follow-up (including maintenance, repair, and handling complaints).

Historical, social, cultural, and scientific perspectives, involving readings and films to focus class discussion and student papers, can help to fill in the picture of materials and manufacturing as essential components of human society.

By the end of the 5th grade, students should know that:

  • Naturally occurring materials such as wood, clay, cotton, and animal skins may be processed to change their properties. 8B/E1*
  • Humans have produced a wide variety of materials, such as steel, plastic, and nylon, that do not appear in nature. 8B/E2*
  • Discarded products contribute to the problem of waste disposal. 8B/E3a
  • Sometimes it is possible to use the materials from discarded products to make new products, but materials differ widely in the ease with which they can be recycled. 8B/E3b
  • Although many things are still made by hand in some parts of the world, almost everything in the most technologically developed countries is now produced using machines that are automated.  By using machinery, the time required to make a product and its cost can be greatly reduced. 8B/E4*

Communication:

By the end of the 5th grade, students should know that:

  • People have invented devices such as paper and ink, engraved plastic disks, and magnetic tapes for recording information.  These devices enable great amounts of information to be stored, retrieved, and sent to other people or places. 8D/E3

Health Technology:

Students can collect information on their own health with simple devices, such as a watch, a thermometer, and a stethoscope, and they can begin to get a sense of how such information varies.  Students can even undertake projects such as designing aids for the disabled.  If children visit a hospital, they can see examples of how computers and monitoring instruments are important in various aspects of health care.

By the end of the 5th grade, students should know that:

  • Technology has made it possible to repair and replace some body parts. 8F/E2*

Source

Common Core Standards

MN Academic Standards: English Language Arts

Informational Text: 3. Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

Writing: 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

a. Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

c. Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because).

d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

e. Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.

Misconceptions

Student Misconceptions 

Engineers will design and create possible prototypes, but an engineer doing the actual building of the final product is a misconception. (Kindem, 2011)

Vignette

Filtering Our Water (this vignette is also tied directly to the 4th grade Standard on Human interaction with Earth Systems 4.3.4.1).

Penelope Porous is ready to teach her first year of fourth grade, however the first month has been harrowing, and worst of all she can't seem to help her students understand how humans impact the limited water supply we have on Earth.  Ms. Porous knows this is a critical standard for students to learn - but to a fourth grader, clean water just comes out of a faucet!  With all her ideas tapped out, Ms. Porous goes to see the other fourth grade teacher, Doug McClune; he's been around a while, maybe he has some ideas.  After an hour with the wise Mr. McClune, Ms. Porous is ready and well equipped to get the job done.

As students enter the classroom, they see a large fish tank filled with very dirty water.  "Eww" says Melody.  "Yuck" says Abi, "that's gross."  "Too bad" says Ms. Porous, "I was hoping we could get some fish for our new classroom fish tank."  "You can't put fish in there, we need to get fresh water first!" says Melody.  "We'll see about that" says Ms. Porous. 

First, Ms. Porous writes the science benchmark on the board in student friendly terms; she asks her students to copy it into their science notebook as the title of this unit: I can describe how people obtain and use water in their homes and how this affects water supply and quality.

Before proposing the challenge, Ms. Porous has students take time to record observations about the dirty water in the fish tank into their science notebooks.  Students are quick to notice all the large debris such as fishing line and a plastic cup, then as they settle in, they describe the soil, and the sediment they also see floating in the water. 

"Your challenge," Ms. Porous says "is to use the material on this table to clean the water in that tank."  Students quickly look to see pop bottles cut in half, sand, kitty litter, coffee filters, gravel, cotton balls and other materials that they are familiar with from their rock unit.  "Hey, we can make a filter with those pop bottles," says Abi.  Students are quickly paired-up to discuss and design their water filter in their science notebooks.  As the students are writing down their ideas and sketching designs into their notebooks, Ms. Porous quietly walks around the room asking questions that prompt her students to think deeper: "Why do you think a particular material will work better or worse then another; what could you do to find out?"  Ms. Porous allow the design experience to naturally unfold over several days.

After students have completed designs in their science notebooks, she allows them to construct the filters to their design specifications.  Students then test their filters in front of the class.  Ms. Porous notices some students already changing their design.  Melody yells at Abi "You're cheating!"  Ms. Porous quickly steps in.  "Students, we are scientists today, and I'll remind you that scientists work together so they can learn from each other."  As students naturally begin the redesign process, they integrate all of the design aspects that worked best to clean the water.  The end product is a filter that drains the water clear.  "Now we can keep the water clean and get fish for the fish tank" says Melody.

Ms. Porous end the lesson, explaining to the children that the fish tank represented the planet Earth, and its limited water supply.  Ms. Porous reads the story in her science kit: Saving Silila's Turtle.  Students talk about how the water in the tank and how water on Earth can get dirty or become polluted.  Students talk about their role in keeping the Earth's water clean, and how scientists and engineers can work together to engineer solutions for world problems like clean water and air.  Finally, Ms. Porous asks students to describe on a clean page in their science notebook how people obtain and use water in their homes and how this affects water supply and quality.  The science notebook is what Ms. Porous assesses after school - she is pleased with the students' work.

 Source: (Koch, 2011)

Resources

Instructional Notes 

Suggested Labs and Activities

A Peek at Packaging:

Students examine the pros and cons of different packaging strategies.  Bring in samples of different kinds of packaging.  Students describe the different purposes for packaging, identify the pros and cons of different types of packaging, and explore how packaging affects our decisions as consumers.  Source: Project learning tree: Environmental education activity guide. (1997). Washington, D.C.: American Forest Foundation.

Paper Civilizations:

Students discover how the development of paper revolutionized the way people communicate and record information.  Source: Project Learning Tree.

Did You Notice?:

Students study changes in their local environment over short and long periods and identify patterns of change.  Source: Source: Project learning tree: Environmental education activity guide. (1997). Washington, D.C.: American Forest Foundation.

Instructional suggestions/options

Use the five "E" learning cycle:

Engagement: the students are drawn to the challenge because it is interesting to them.  The storybooks that commence each unit are designed to capture students' imaginations.  Students share their ideas about the problems raised in the story.

Exploration: the students begin to explore related science and engineering principles in brief activities.  During this phase, they encounter problems or ask questions leading into the explanation phase.

Explanation: students describe what they think is happening and are ready to learn from their peers and teacher.

Elaboration: students apply what they have learned to meet the larger design challenge.

Evaluation: students reflect on what they learned.

Source

Use collaborative learning and teamwork: Like real-world engineering projects, most activities should be done in small groups.

Focus on the process: One design process is from the curriculum Engineering is Elementary (EIE).         

                  

Source

Instructional Resources 

Additional resources

The Works: Teacher resources and lesson plans on engineering.

ZOOM into Engineering: Engineering activities and information on how to get students involved in engineering.

New Vocabulary 

Vocabulary/Glossary

Engineer: engineers are problem-solvers who want to make things work more efficiently and quickly and less expensively. Source

Engineering: engineering is the practical application of science and math to solve problems. Source

System: a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole. Source

Technology Connections 
Cross Curricular Connections 

Art: Make a collage of pictures of engineered structures, processes and systems that are intended to improve society and may make humans more productive.

Social Studies: Review photographs over a period of time to see how a community/place has changed due to the impact of the designed world.

Assessment

Assessment of Students

First Word-Last Word - a variation of acrostics: 

Students make statements about a topic before and after instruction that begins with a designated letter of the alphabet.  The First Word can be used to activate student thinking about the topic.  The Last Word provides an opportunity for reflection on how understandings were modified.

Possible words: Engineer, Engineering, or Impacts.

Source: Keeley, P. (2008). Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Questions for Students:

  1. Does every engineered product or process always improve society?  Explain your thinking.  (Level - Evaluation)
  2. Do you agree that every invention has a positive and negative effect on the natural world?  Explain your thinking.  (Level - Evaluation)
  3. Describe the positive and negative impacts that a ______ (ex. dam, freeway, parking lot) can have on the natural world.  (Level - Analysis)
  4. What is an example of how the natural world has been impacted as more and more engineered products and services are created and used?  (Level - Application)
  5. What is an example of an engineered design or process that has helped humans be more productive?  (Level - Application)
  6. What is the difference between the designed and natural worlds?  (Level - Comprehension)
  7. What would you suggest be engineered to help improve society?  What impact would it have on the natural world?  Explain your thinking.  (Level - Synthesis)

Assessment of Teachers

  1. Do you agree that every invention has a positive and negative effect on the natural world?  Explain your thinking.  (Level - Evaluation)
  2. What would you suggest be engineered to help improve society?  What impact would it have on the natural world?  Explain your thinking.  (Level - Synthesis)
  3. Describe the positive and negative impacts that a ______ (ex. dam, freeway, parking lot) can have on the natural world.  (Level - Analysis)

Differentiation

Struggling Learners 

Struggling and At-Risk

Additional exposure or pre-exposure to activities can be helpful.  Split up large chunks of instruction, particularly experimental procedures, into small parts.  Have students repeat directions in their own words.

Integrate hands-on instruction with traditional methods.  Switching to a different instructional modality can re-focus wandering attention.

Source

English Language Learners 

Graphic Organizers: Graphic organizers are a means of introducing and assessing concepts in a manner that encourages meaningful learning.  They require minimal language and are therefore helpful tools when teaching science to English language learners.  Students could create Venn diagrams (comparing the designed or natural worlds, positive and negative impacts of an engineered design, etc).    

Group projects & cooperative learning: Group work and cooperative learning provide opportunities for students to exchange, write, and present ideas.

Source

Extending the Learning 

Overall, develop collaboration and empowerment in the entire learning community.  Always think whether someone from the learning community was left out in a lesson or engineering design challenge.

Students could create a VoiceThread with examples of what engineers have designed, created and developed that were intended to improve society and make humans more productive.

Multi-Cultural 

Introduce engineers and engineered products from around the world.  Have students explore the impact of one engineered product/process on several different places/societies.

Special Education 

Extra Time: A student may have great difficulty working with numbers and may be easily confused by the symbols used on measuring tools.  Consequently, the student may need additional time to complete assignments.  You need to keep this in mind for class assignments and when implementing wait time for students to answer a question.

Modified Work: Students with a disability may need their work modified in order to be successful.  This may mean changing the assignment to something more appropriate.

Source: The Sourcebook for Teaching Science

Parents/Admin

Classroom Observation 

Administrators

Administrators should expect to see an atmosphere of collaboration and critical thinking.  Students should be challenged to be open-minded, imagine possibilities and outcomes, to step back and look at the whole picture, support ideas with reasons why, and understand others.

Parents 

Have your child tour your home and make a list of the engineered structures, processes and systems that improve your family life and make your family more productive.