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        Rain Collection Engineering Design

        Students use the engineering design process to create a rain collection object or tool in this lesson plan created by teacher Amanda Gianniny from Discovery Charter School.

        For more resources from Teaching Engineering in New York, check out the collection page.

        Lesson Summary

        Time Allotment

        This lesson takes two weeks to complete. Students spend the first week working through the stages of building and testing their models and the second week working on their presentations. To save time students can do oral presentations and assessment can rest on their journaling.

        Learning Objectives

        • Students will be able to define and explain the importance of each stage of the engineering design process.
        • Students will work in groups and follow the engineering design process to build a model of a rain collection system for the new school gardens. 


        -Various objects for construction of rain collectors: examples of these include dowels, tongue depressors, straws, plastic utensils, tin foil, aluminum pans, plastic containers, wooden discs or sheets for the base, foam sheeting, paper clips, etc.
        -Scissors, glue, tape
        -Watering can or sprinkler for testing

        Media Resources

        The Engineering Design Process: A Taco Party

        Earth to Blorb: Water!

        Introductory Activity

        If students have not begun studying water, explain the role of water in plant growth. The resource, Earth to Blorb: Water!, is a good introduction.

        Introduce the stages of the engineering design process with The Engineering Design Process: A Taco Party. Then have the students turn and talk: How is the engineering design process like a taco party? How is it like the writing process?
        Answer: it has steps and revising!

        Learning Activities

        1. Review the steps of the process (each day!)
        2. Define the Problem: (whole group)
          1. Connect to general curriculum, for example ELA reading, about water conservation.
          2. “What is a problem gardeners might have with water conservation?”
          3. “Our problem is that we need to find a way to collect rainwater to water the gardens while still conserving water.”
        3. Identify:
          1. What constraints do we need to consider?
            1. weather, materials, cost, etc.

        Students will form groups and complete the following:

        • Brainstorm and Select
          • Students must draw and label a diagram of their plan
        • Prototype 1
          • Students will use provided materials to build a small scale model of their design.
        • Test 1
          • Students will bring their prototypes outside where teacher will use her watering can to “Make it rain” and they will see how their structure works.”
        • Iterate:
          • Students will make notes about what worked and what didn’t work about their first design and then work to make changes.
        • Test 2
          • Students will bring their prototypes outside where I will use my watering can to “Make it rain” and they will see how their structure works.”
          • Students will discuss which of the three final designs we want to present to the garden committee
        • Communicate

        Students will work together to create a presentation (including powerpoint). Presentation will include information about the process they used as well as the merits of the final design. 

        Culminating Activity

        Students each complete a slide that teaches about a stage of the design process and why that stage helped them with their model. Here is the final presentation with all the slides from Amanda Gianniny's class.


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