During this cycle, students learned about Engineering and the Engineering Design Process. They learned that engineers think creatively about solving problems and responding to challenges that exist in our world. Students also learned that engineers follow the steps of the Engineering Design Process to solve these problems: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve.
Students began the cycle with a quick challenge in which they constructed a square and a triangle from marshmallows and toothpicks. Students tested the strength of each shape and found that the triangle could withstand more pressure than the square. Next, the students constructed a pyramid from the same materials and tested the strength of the pyramid.
Students were presented with a challenge to engineer a house (made from recycled materials) for the fourth little pig. The house would need to withstand the gusts of the Big Bad Wolf. Before beginning their design, students reviewed the story of The Three Little Pigs. We discussed and compared materials used in each of the three designs from the story. We then related this to the construction of our own homes and the importance of having a strong and sturdy design to withstand extreme weather conditions.
Challenge: Using what you know about levers and gravity, create a container for a dog treat that dispenses the treat. The house must meet the following criteria:
• The house must be large enough for the fourth little pig.
• It must be made from recycled materials.
• The house must have an entrance.
• The house must withstand the wind gusts generated by the Big Bad Wolf.
Materials: toothpicks, craft sticks, pasta (linguine), paper clips, straws, tape, cardboard, marshmallows, chenille stems, and scissors
Using the steps of the Engineering Design Process, students worked in teams to complete the challenge.
On the last day, students presented their solutions and reflected on their work. As a group, they defined what it means to be an engineer, and the character traits needed to be successful.