BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- Challenged to design and build a vehicle that rolls, students in Debra Conroy’s fifth-grade class at Todd Elementary School were enthusiastic about an opportunity to work in groups of three on an engineering task that required following the Engineer’s Design Process.
“Students discussed basic concepts of motion and simple machines that are part of vehicles and their movement,” said Conroy. “They were given a variety of supplies to use in designing and building their model.” Instead of observing a teacher complete an experiment, students said they enjoyed creating their own models from scratch and used the opportunity to get to know each other better.
Once the models were complete, the students chose a variable to help determine the best model, Conroy said.
“The ideas included testing speed, testing distance and finally, design,” she said. “Data was collected and the students used math concepts to determine the means to compare results. This led to discussion about model designs and to answering questions such as, ‘What worked?’ and ‘What could be changed?’”
Kusum Sinha, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction, assessment and human resources commented on the lesson.
“This was an excellent lesson based on principles of engineering where students created a mini-mobile by first designing it and then building it," Sinha said.
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