4.1.2.2 Practice of Engineering

Grade: 
4
Subject:
Science
Strand:
Nature of Science & Engineering
Substrand:
The Practice of Engineering
Standard 4.1.2.2

Engineering design is the process of identifying problems, developing multiple solutions, selecting the best possible solution, and building the product.

Benchmark: 4.1.2.2.1 Designs for Solving Problems

Identify and investigate a design solution and describe how it was used to solve an everyday problem.

For example: Investigate different varieties of construction tools.

Benchmark: 4.1.2.2.2 Ideas & Constraints

Generate ideas and possible constraints for solving a problem through engineering design.

For example: Design and build an electromagnet to sort steel and aluminum materials for recycling.

Benchmark: 4.1.2.2.3 Evaluating Solutions

Test and evaluate solutions, considering advantages and disadvantages of the engineering solution, and communicate the results effectively.

Overview

Standard in Lay Terms 

Humans can identify and solve problems by developing and testing solutions (new products)

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

A quote, cartoon or video clip link directly related to the standard.

“"Scientists investigate that which already is;

Engineers create that which has never been.''” Albert Einstein

Engineering design develops a product or solution to a problem.  Engineering design is a process of developing multiple solutions and considering trade-offs of each solution- there is no perfect solution.  Students should become increasingly comfortable with developing designs and analyzing the product: "Does it work?" "Could I make it work better?" "Could I have used better materials?" The more experience students accrue, the less direct guidance they need. (Benchmarks of Science Literacy)

Benchmark Cluster 

MN Standard Benchmarks :

  • 4.1.2.2.1 Identify and investigate a design solution and describe how it was used to solve an everyday problem
  • 4.1.2.2.2 generate ideas and possible constraints for solving a problem through engineering design
  • 4.1.2.2.3 test and evaluate solutions, considering advantages and disadvantages of the engineering solution, and communicate the results effectively
Correlations 

NSES Standards: [This example highlights some elements of all of the Teaching Standards; Assessment Standard A; 5-8 Content Standards B and E; Program Standard D; and System Standard D.]

Abilities of technological design

Implementing proposed solutions. Children should develop abilities to work individually and collaboratively and to use suitable tools, techniques, and quantitative measurements when appropriate. Students should demonstrate the ability to balance simple constraints in problem solving.

  • AAAS Atlas:

Grade 6-8 Manufacturing usually involves a series of steps, such as designing a product, obtaining and preparing raw materials, processing the materials mechanically or chemically, and assembling the product. All steps may occur at a single location or may occur at different locations. 8B/M2 (ID: SMS-BMK-0520)

  • NAEP (optional)


Common Core Standards:

MN Academic Standards: English Language Arts

  • 4.2.1.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • 4.2.3.3 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.
  • 4.2.4.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.
  • 4.2.7.7 Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
  • 4.2.10.10   By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band independently and proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
    • a. Self-select texts for personal enjoyment, interest, and academic tasks.

Misconceptions

Student Misconceptions 

Students think that there is only one solution or only one product that will work.  Students may start an engineering project looking for an answer, they will often ask teachers “is this right?” its important for teachers to not give or suggest that there is one correct answer.

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 can describe the soil, and 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 form their rock unit. “hey, we can make a filter with those pop bottles,” says Abi.  Students are quickly pared 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 notebook, 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- “Your cheating”, Ms. Porous quickly steps in.  “Students, we are scientists today, and I’ll remind you that scientists work together so that they can learn from each other.” As students naturally begin the redesign process, they integrate all of the design aspects that worked the 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 talked 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, on a clean page in their science notebook Ms. Porous asks students to describe 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.

Sample water filter sketch from student science notebook, adding accurate measurements of how much of each filter substrate being used aligns with the measurement of matter standard 4.2.1.1

Resources

Instructional Notes 

Selected activities

(These activities are limited to engineering design that relates to fourth grade content standards, they relate to all three benchmarks above, the benchmarks are so interrelated that engineering activities usually meet all three)

See standard 4.3.4.1 Human Interactions- building a water filter: EiE (This is a purchased activity) Water, Water Everywhere, designing water filters: This unit addresses the increasingly important issue of water quality through lessons that teach students about water contamination and the ways that people ensure the quality of their drinking water. This activity (as described in vignette also meets measurement of matter standard 4.2.1.1.)

A free version of the activity from the vignette (very similar) can be found at the PBS Zoom Activities building a water filter

Can you catch the Water? Students construct a three-dimensional model of a water catchment basin using everyday objects to create hills, mountains, valleys and water sources. They experiment to see where rain travels and collects, and survey water pathways to see how they can be altered by natural and human-made activities. Students discuss how engineers design structures that impact water collection, and systems that clean and distribute water. (from Teach Engineering website)

Water Filtration: Students will learn about the importance of water and the role it plays in our lives. Students will be exposed to what must occur each day so that they can have clean water.

Solid Rock to Building Block   Students continue their journey, acting as engineers to determine the appropriate wedge tool to best extract rock from a quarry and cut into pyramid blocks. Using sample materials (wax, soap, clay, foam) representing rock types that might be found in a quarry, they test a variety of wedges made from different materials and with different degrees of sharpness to determine which is most effective at cutting each type of material.

Instructional suggestions:

All three 4th grade NSE standards are interconnected, and should be taught this way if possible and not as separate units. See Cathy Kindem’s work on Standard 4.1.2.1

There are many excellent opportunities for students to practice the engineering design process. Don’t be shy let them design!

T[1] he leading product in elementary engineering is EiE-Engineering is Elementary- their design process is a complete yet developmentally appropriate process for elementary students to follow. Have a poster of this process available for students:

Teachers do not need to use the exact process above, one instructional suggestion is to let students brainstorm what the engineering process is, as the group discusses many parts of the cycle will unfold naturally.  Key aspects of the engineering process are starting with a good question or a probe, designing a solution, developing a plan of action, creating the product, then testing and improving or redesigning. 

Children are fascinated with building and with taking things apart to see how they work, they engineer informally all the time. By encouraging these explorations in elementary school, we can keep these interests alive. Describing their activities as "engineering" when they are engaged in the natural design process can help children develop positive associations with engineering, and increase their desire to pursue such activities in the future. Linked from EiE

Teachers should place emphasis on the notion that there usually is not one best design for a product or process, but a variety of alternatives and possibilities. One way to accomplish this goal is to have several groups design and execute solutions to the same problem and then discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each solution. Ideally, the problems should be "real" and engaging for the students. (From Benchmarks)


Is there a way to state this without elivating it above other materials (ie PBS kids, Engineering by Design, etc.)?

A recommendation might be “One curriculum material that has been piloted successfully in Minnesota is...” or “Engineering is Elementary, utilized in many districts as a supplemental material...”

—doug.paulson

Instructional Resources 

Additional resources or links:

New Vocabulary 
  • Engineering- applying practical knowledge to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of people
  • Problem- an obstacle, difficulty or challenge, or any situation that invites resolution
  • Solution- the resolution of a problem
  • Trade-Off- the exchange of one thing for another of more or less equal value, especially to effect a compromise.
  • Constraint- a limitation on a design or engineering solution.
  • Evaluate- to judge or determine the significance, worth, or quality of; assess: in engineering this is to test your solution using the design criteria
  • Advantage- any state, circumstance, opportunity, or means specially favorable to success, interest, or any desired end; in engineering a design that favors the end result
  • Disadvantage-  absence or deprivation of advantage or equality; something that puts one in an unfavorable position or condition
Technology Connections 

Digital cameras are a good way for students to document the engineering process and a well constructed photo can act as evidence of the change a product goes through during this process. encourage students to take before and after photos of their original design and again at the end of their final design.  Photos can be added to science notebooks along side student sketches of their work.

Additionally students can integrate digital photos into other digital tools such as Voicethread (Interactive showcase of digital products)  Glogster (interactive web based poster) or blogs such as Kidblog (Kidblog is an easy to use blog that is developmentally appropriate and easy enough to use for grades 1-5) 

Google Sketch-up is a free 3D software tool that combines a tool-set with an intelligent drawing system.  You can think of it as a simplified CAD (Computer Aided Design) software that is free.  This software can be used with younger students down to grade 3 and is equally useful and exciting to older students. Google Sketch-up allows students to create three dimensional pictures of their designs and is an ideal fit to add computer technology into an engineering project.

Cross Curricular Connections 
  • Biomimicry- teachers can highlight examples of how engineers and scientist often borrow design solutions from nature- the classic Minnesota example- Velcro- the idea comes from the little burs that stick to your clothing on a nature walk.
  • Teachers can find teachable moments about engineering in everyday current events.  Teachers should highlight an engineer or a design solution for a current event and then allow students to have a group discussion about the person or product.

Assessment

  •  Students:
  1. A hands on opportunity to engineer something and then explain the choices and design process would be most appropriate for assessment of this standard (Level 3):
    1. an example might include something as simple as designing a paper airplane to fly a specific distance, teachers should look for a clear choice of paper product, design plan, results of the design and redesign process- look for the why more then te what.
  2. What is engineering (Level 1)?
    1. engineering is applying practical knowledge to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of people
  3. Draw a Venn diagram below and differentiate between the science investigation process and the engineering design process(Level 3):
  4. Why is the redesign step an important part of the engineering process? Why not just design once and be done with it (Level 2)?
    1. engineers need to test and retest their solutions to develop a product to best meet the needs of humans
  5.  Why is it important for engineers to test out their product and see how it works(Level 2)?
    1. testing and evaluating the solution or product is an important part of the engineering design process, it allows engineers to determine the advantages and disadvantages of their solutions and compare them with other scientists
  6. Is it possible to have more then one design solution to a problem (Level 2)?
    1. Student answers should reflect that there are often many design solutions, teachers should look for students awareness that each design solution has its own advantages and disadvantages. 

 

  • Teachers: Questions could be used as self-reflection or in professional development sessions.
  1. What are the similarities and differences between the engineering design process and the scientific investigation process?
  2. In engineering there is rarely ever one answer or one perfect design, explain why this is, what are some factors that might make one design better then another?
  3. A great hands-on activity for professional development and understanding the 4th grade Nature and science of engineering standards.  choose a common product like paper towels, have teachers work in teams of three to develop methods to test and evaluate the effectiveness of different brands of paper towels, what are the advantages and disadvantages of each product? teacher teams should be able to communicate their results to each other effectively. 

 

  • Administrators:

Administrators should look for teachers to place emphasis on the notion that there usually is not one best design for a product or process, but a variety of alternatives and possibilities. One way to accomplish this goal is to have several groups design and execute solutions to the same problem and then discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each solution. Ideally, the problems should be "real" and engaging for the students. (From Benchmarks )

Administrators should look for teachers to allow students to test their own ideas, as tempting as it may be to tell a student in advance “that won’t work” self discovery is an extremely significant aspect for this learning. Teachers need to remember that its the process not the product that is significant here.

Differentiation

Struggling Learners 

Struggling and At-Risk

Bricks and mortar vocabulary labels (bricks are content specific vocabulary like constraint or evaluate.  Mortar are words that a student might need but are not content- for this unit examples might be- system or cycle) and word walls, vocabulary posters,  pre-teaching: accessing prior knowledge (explore students personal experiences with trying to fix something at home, students often have simple yet complete examples of engineering via personal experience), graphic organizers, each activity needs to have reading, writing, speaking, listening component. (Keenan)

Partner work and pairing can be used for ELL and other groups above, teachers must be aware and careful to pair students so that both students have opportunities to participate and contribute to the work being done.

English Language Learners 

Bricks and mortar vocabulary labels (bricks are content specific vocabulary like constraint or evaluate.  Mortar are words that a student might need but are not content- for this unit examples might be- system or cycle) and word walls, vocabulary posters,  pre-teaching: accessing prior knowledge (explore students personal experiences with trying to fix something at home, students often have simple yet complete examples of engineering via personal experience), graphic organizers, each activity needs to have reading, writing, speaking, listening component. (Keenan)

Extending the Learning 

G/T

The classic GE project for engineering- have students research Rube Goldberg and his designs.  Students are enthralled with the cartoons of Rube Goldberg, however attempting to recreate an actual Rube Goldberg, even a simple on is an intense process of- design, redesign and try it again.   Students can then build simple Rube Goldbergs- a resource for this is the Myth Busters Rube Goldberg Christmas video. There are also many examples of simple and complete Rube Goldbergs.

Parents: Parent can work with students at home to engineer simple products.  An example might be one of the Zoom Activities (PBS Kids) such as Building Water Filter

Take apart/ break apart- parents can work with children to safely disassemble old electronics that are no longer working- examples include old VCR’s or alarm clocks. 

Local connection for parents would be a trip to The Works Children's Engineering Museum in Edina MN

Parents who want to foster this type of creativity can also look into STEM and Engineering summer camps and MN First LEGO League

Multi-Cultural 

There are many exciting examples of engineering in all cultures and ethnic groups.  teachers should share these examples with students.  By sharing these examples with students teachers can help prevent stereotypes such as only societies with advanced technology are true engineers.  Historical cultures also have excellent engineering examples- the Great Wall of China, The Pyramids, The Mayan and the Aztec cultures.

Special Education 

Bricks and mortar vocabulary labels (bricks are content specific vocabulary like constraint or evaluate.  Mortar are words that a student might need but are not content- for this unit examples might be- system or cycle) and word walls, vocabulary posters,  pre-teaching: accessing prior knowledge (explore students personal experiences with trying to fix something at home, students often have simple yet complete examples of engineering via personal experience), graphic organizers, each activity needs to have reading, writing, speaking, listening component. (Keenan)