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An engineering challenge requires students to work together while providing an opportunity for assessing their learning styles.
This is an awesome article that is a design project in which students work together to solve an issue called “The Construction Corundum.” Students must replicate a model of something using materials in the classroom. This is a design project in which the teacher gets to observe how students work together and how they learn. The article includes modifications and it also provides a process skills chart across the curriculum. This is a great activity for all grades.
Adah (San Antonio, TX)
This article details a great learning activity and includes scaffolding tips and how to connect it across academic disciplines. I'm excited to try it out in my classroom.
Christopher Hall (Vanderwagen, NM)
In an effort to identify various personalities as early as possible at the beginning of the school year, the authors suggest using an engineering challenge called “Construction Conundrum” to reveal leaders/followers, who can follow directions, who is more verbal, which students like hands-on activities, and who will shy away from challenges. They used “The Design Brief” format, which is a template originated by the authors and included in this article, to set up the activity. Also included in this activity are: Figure 1 “Activity modifications” (adjustments that can be made with the materials or directions), Figure 2 “Process skills across the disciplines” (includes: Arts, LA, Math, Science, & Social Studies), and “Figure 3 “Activity overview” (directions for the activity). I found this article was extremely well written. Having used a very similar activity in the past, I must confirm everything said in this article to be accurate. Using this as a pre- and post- assessment, you will be able to compare students’ responses between both activities. I highly recommend this article/activity at all grade levels…and in all content areas.
After reading the article, I see how communication can be integrated into any lesson, not as a culminating activity, but as part of the learning. We seem to neglect listening and speaking skills as we assume they will develop on thier own. By emphasizing these skills and following up with reflective practices students will build confidence and be better prepared to justify their work as opposed to deferring the adult's opinion of their responses. The following quote furhter validates the importance of reflective practices and communication: Many scientists agree that it is through the process of reflection, either by discussion or writing, that the learning is further enhanced and made more memorable.
Joseph Cerna (San antonio, TX)
This article offers an engineering challenge that has been successfully used by teachers in primary grades through high school. The authors recommend this lesson as a way to start a new school year off and help teachers get to know their students a little better by observing their collaborative behaviors/abilities. The activity is called the “Construction Conundrum”. Students are placed into construction teams to build models of a new cultural center for their community. The time spent collaborating, designing, constructing, etc., requires students to practice several process skills including classifying, articulating, evaluating, justifying, observing, etc. A detailed process skills chart (Figure 2) is included. The article describes this exercise as a way for students to “…employ a design loop approach to problem solving: planning before acting, asking for clarification when needed, evaluating team progress along the way, revisiting project goals, devising a common vocabulary, and developing a team spirit that is essential with such projects”. There is one photograph displaying a construction team’s model.
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)