We recommend this sequence of lessons for a community-based engineering curriculum unit. This flow embeds science inquiry and community connections within an engineering design process. It begins with identifying a solvable problem in the community and ends with presenting and critiquing the findings. During the process, students constantly test, evaluate, and refine their science ideas and design solutions.
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.
Student Learning Objectives
|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.|
|2||Identify an engineering problem in the classroom, school, or neighborhood. Then 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.|
|3||The constraints and learning standards should be identified and decided by the facilitator depending on the science, math, and technology concepts and tools to be explored in the class.|
|4||Work both individually and collaboratively to plan a solution to an engineering problem in the community. Then, predict how well the planned solution will work.|
|5||Construct, test, and reflect on a prototype solution to an engineering problem in the community.|
|6||Provide explanations for the designs and solutions with justifications in written and oral format.|