Community Based Engineering Framework

The four elements of the CBE framework guide the process of applying engineering design to a problem in your community. The framework begins with identifying a suitable community problem and ends with explaining a solution designed and prototyped by students.

Four Key Elements of the Community-Based Engineering Framework

A. Unpack the Problem

Identify community problems and determine which might be solved through engineering design. Choose a particular problem, identify the specific community needs, and make a list of criteria and constraints.

B. Research and Plan a Solution

Brainstorm potential solutions to the problem. Investigate scientific phenomena related to the problem and its potential solutions. Consult resources to plan a specific solution that might meet the criteria and constraints.

C. Construct and Test a Prototype

Construct a prototype that demonstrates a solution. Test the prototype to see if it stays within the constraints and fulfills the criteria. Make changes and test again.

D. Explain and Redesign

Generate explanations for what does and does not work about the prototypes. Make recommendations for next steps for solving the community problem.

CBE Lesson Sequence

Overview of the Community-Based Engineering Strategy

The CBE framework provides a guiding structure for a Community Based Engineering curriculum module. Here we share more details about how to make CBE happen in the classroom. We recommend a sequence of six lessons, each with a set of student learning objectives in sync with the CBE framework. Each lesson can be planned to take place over several short class sessions or in one longer single session.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives for each of these lessons and the alignment with standards.

Lesson 1

Describe engineering as a process of using creativity, science, and mathematics to design and test different solutions to a problem or different ways to change a situation that people want to change.

Lesson 2

a) Identify an engineering problem in the classroom, school, or neighborhood.

b) Research the problem to generate criteria for successfully solving it, and determine limits on the materials and time that can be used to solve it.

Lesson 3

These should be identified and decided by the facilitator depending on the science, math, and technology concepts and tools to be explored in the class.

Lesson 4

a) Work both individually and collaboratively to plan a solution to an engineering problem in the community.

b) Predict how well the planned solution will work.

Lesson 5

Construct, test, and reflect on a prototype solution to an engineering problem in the community.

Lesson 6

Provide explanations for the designs and solutions with justifications in written and oral format.