How can we, as engineers, use what we know about design to address a real-world problem?

An engineer is someone who designs machines or structures to solve problems.

How can you work as an engineer to:

  1. Identify everyday problems that affect someone you know (that engineering could address)?
  2. Create a machine or structure that addresses the problem you identified?

Design Process Journal

In this unit we will download and edit the Design Process Journal to document our engineering process. This will help our creative process and ensure that all of our thinking and making is shown. You can download the journal here, or ask your teacher for a copy. Follow your teachers’ instructions on how to edit the journal on your iPad using Pages.

Unit guide

The unit is structured in 3 stages – Define & Inquire, Develop & Plan, Create & Improve. (Note: this is covered in the design journal).

Stage 1: Define & Inquire

  • What problems can you identify (big or small) that engineering could address? Use design thinking, interviews & observations to identify real problems you might like to address
  • Write a Design Brief – this is where you specify the problem, and how you intend to address it
  • Research the problem, gather a range of inspiration from various primary and secondary sources, and explore examples of how similar problems have been addressed by engineers
  • Use Seesaw to reflect on this stage and set goals for the next stage

Stage 2: Develop & Plan

  • Generate as many divergent ideas as you possibly can (sketching, brainstorming, etc)
  • Identify the strongest potential solutions to your problem and add more detail to the concept(s)
  • Select your best idea and make a detailed plan – materials, measurements, construction techniques, timeline, etc
  • Use Seesaw to reflect on this stage and set goals for the next stage

Stage 3: Create & Improve

  • Begin creating a physical prototype as early in the process as possible
  • Test your prototype – preferably with your intended audience
  • Gather lots of feedback from your audience, peers, teachers, etc
  • Use the testing results and feedback to identify ways to improve your design – make a revised plan
  • Create a refined version of your design and repeat stage 3 as many times as you can
  • Use Seesaw to reflect on this stage

Reflect & Share stage

  • Reflect on your entire journey as an engineer:
    • Tell the story of your design process
    • How did your final design address the problem that you identified in your design brief?
    • What were the biggest challenges? How did you fail during your process? What did you learn from your failures?
    • What were your biggest successes? How did you know you were on the right track?
    • What would you do if you could keep working on this project? What would you do differently if you could start over?
    • What was the most helpful feedback you received and why? How did you support other Grade 4 engineers in this project?