Unit Overview

Lesson Overview

In Mosa Mack’s Design Thinking unit, students work together in a collaborative challenge in which they discover the steps of the Design Thinking process. They then apply this process to design the strongest boat and a way to rescue a stranded sloth. In the unit, students also have an opportunity to analyze historical engineering successes and failures.

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    Lesson 1: Discover the design process through a building challenge.

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    Lesson 2: Analyze famous engineering successes and failures.

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    Lesson 3: Engineering Challenge! What will you build to save a sloth from a pit of hungry gators?

  • Next Generation Science Standards
    3-5 ETS1-2
    Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
    3-5 ETS1-3
    Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
    ETS1-1
    Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
    ETS1-2
    Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
    ETS1-3
    Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
    MS-ETS1-1
    Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
    MS-ETS1-2
    Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
    MS-ETS1-3
    Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
    MS-ETS1-4
    Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
  • Inquiry Scale

    • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
    • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
    • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.
  • Common Misconceptions
    • Students may believe that Design Thinking is only used by engineers, but in fact this process is used in many areas and across many industries.
    • Learners may believe that since the steps of Design Thinking are presented in a specific order they must always follow them exactly as shown. Reinforce to students that Design Thinking is a creative process that may take different paths.
    • Students may initially think that a prototype should only be tested once. Emphasize to students that prototypes typically need to be tested and the design needs to be refined and retested a number of times before a final engineered product is produced. Through multiple tests, multiple variables can be identified and tested to make a more successful product.
    • Learners may be inclined to go with the first idea they come up with. Reinforce that brainstorming is a very important component to the process, and encourage students to be open to many ideas.
    • Students may not realize that prototypes need to use proper proportions and should be designed from similar materials to that of the actual engineered product to test efficiency of materials.
  • Vocabulary
      • Design Thinking
      • Brainstorm
      • Ideate
      • Prototype
      • Test
      • Refine
      • Retest
  • Content Expert
    • Susie Wise
      Director of K12 Lab Stanford d.school