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        Brainstorm and Evaluate Solutions | Engineering for Good

        What is the best solution for your problem, based on your criteria and constraints? Students will brainstorm possible solutions for their plastic problem and select the most promising one.This is lesson 5 of 10 in Engineering for Good, a NGSS-aligned, project-based learning unit.

        KQED Teach is here to support you in doing these projects with your students. We encourage you to take or review our self-paced courses, Making Infographics and Video Storytelling Essentials, prior to beginning this unit if you are not already regularly integrating media projects into your classroom. Sign up is required (and free) to access courses.

        Engineering for Good Unit

        Lesson Summary

        In this lesson, students will brainstorm possible solutions for their plastic problem and select the most promising one, based on their criteria and constraints.

        Time Allotment

        70 minutes

        Learning Objectives

        Students will brainstorm possible solutions for their plastic problem and select the most promising one, based on their criteria and constraints.

        Supplies

        Essential Question

        What is the best solution for your problem, based on your criteria and constraints?

        Introductory Activity

        Introduction/Hook

        1. Review the Engineering Design Process diagram on page 3 of the Engineering for Good student notebook. Explain to students that they will be going through the next step of the process--brainstorming--to develop a bunch of ideas for solutions to their plastics problem.

        2. Watch the Brainstorming Rules video from Stanford’s d.school to introduce students to effective brainstorming practices. Before watching the video, discuss what the term “defer judgment” means.

        3. After the video, briefly discuss the strengths and challenges of the brainstorming process. What did the group do really well? What should your group do in order to have a productive brainstorming session?

        4. Review the guidelines for brainstorming or have students develop their own guidelines as a class and add them to the list in their notebooks.

        5. Discuss some tips for coming up with ideas for solutions, like thinking about analogous problems/solutions, thinking about the problem in different ways or coming up with a headline (as demonstrated in the video) by explaining the problem to another person in a succinct way.

        Learning Activities

        Guided Practice

        1. Give one sheet of poster paper to each group. Have each group rewrite their problem statement at the top of the poster paper so that it is visible during the brainstorm.

        2. Give students 3 minutes to brainstorm as many solutions as they can, individually, and write each one separately on a sticky note using a marker. Encourage students to stay with the big ideas and not get weighed down with specifics yet.

        3. Have students share their ideas with their small groups verbally and by posting or rewriting their ideas on the large piece of poster paper. Solutions can be grouped together if they are similar.

        4. Give students 5 minutes to continue the brainstorm as a small group, building off of others’ ideas and adding new ones. Note: Providing open-ended questions for discussion can help students who are feeling “stuck” come up with ideas.

        5. As a class, return to the Engineering Design Process diagram. Now that students have brainstormed a bunch of solutions, they will select the most promising solution based on the criteria and constraints they defined earlier.

        6. Have students evaluate all of the brainstormed solutions and select the most promising solution (or merge their ideas).

        • First, each group should review their ranked lists of criteria and constraints.
        • Then, based on their lists, each student chooses their favorite three solutions by placing a star sticker next to each of those ideas on the poster paper.
        • The solution with the most stickers is the solution that gets selected. If there is a tie, then the group works together to choose the one solution that best meets the criteria and constraints.

        7. Have small groups share out their ideas with the rest of the class. If there is time, you can allow questions after each group shares their idea.

         

         

        Independent Practice

        1. Students should work together in their groups to further develop their solution. They can adjust their ideas based on any input they received when they shared their ideas with the class.

        2. On page 12 of their notebooks, students can record the following:

        • A rough sketch of their solution
        • Major features of their design
        • The kind of prototype they will be creating: a visual prototype (looks like their solution) or a working prototype (works--and possibly looks--like their solution)
        • Materials and tools they will need to build their prototype
        • Questions or concerns they have with their design

        Note: Students may need to bring in materials they have at home in order to build their prototypes. Legos or similar building blocks may also work well for building prototypes.

        Culminating Activity

        Assessment/Reflection

        Were students able to use their list of criteria and constraints to select the most viable solution for their problem?

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