Engineering Design Activities

Engineering Design is one of the main practices in the Next Generation Science Standards.  There are two ways that engineering design is built into the NextGenPET set of curriculum materials. 

First, each of the five content modules includes two units, and there is a design activity at the end of each unit.  See the Table of Contents for the list of these activities. 

Second, some of the teaching and learning extension (homework) activities include discussion of engineering design in elementary classrooms and include video clips from the Engineering is Elementary curriculum.  Below are some examples.

End of Unit Engineering Design Activities

At the end of Unit M, Developing a Model for Magnetism, students can work on UM Act6: The Maglev System.  In this activity the students answer several questions about the design of an actual magnetic levitation train system, drawing on knowledge they had learning in the unit.

At the end of Unit EM, Energy-based Model for Interactions, the students can work on UEM Act9: No More Cold Showers.  In this activity the students need to decide which device will be more effective at providing warm water for a shower without electricity. Its purpose is to engage the participants in thinking about how the three means for thermal energy transport (conduction, convection and radiation) play out in the context of a real-world device, and to think about the energy flows in such systems.

At the end of Unit CF: Combination of Forces, students can work on UCF Act6: Safety on the Docks.  In this activity they use the PhET ‘forces and motion basics’ simulator to conduct a series of online simulations to develop a set of safety lessons for dockworkers.

Teaching and Learning Activities Involving Engineering Design

At the end of Unit M, Developing a Model for Magnetism, students can work on a teaching and learning homework extension (TL Exension E) where they learn about the engineering design process as described in the NGSS, and then focus on how theEngineering is Elementary curriculum describes the steps in the engineering design process. 

Then the students view two video clips from Engineering is Elementary module, The Attraction is Obvious: Designing Maglev Systems, where fourth grade students are learning about properties of magnets and then applying those ideas to building a simple maglev system.  The questions the NextGenPET students answer about the video clips focus on the kinds of questions the teacher asks, the students’ ideas and what NGSS practices they engage in, and which steps of the engineering design process are being illustrated.