Grade 10s recently completed a Motion & Stability unit in the Design Center where they “applied science and engineering ideas to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force upon a macroscopic object during a collision” (HS-PS2-3).
Beginning with an inquiry into the way NASA landed their 2005 Exploration Rover on the surface of Mars, students completed an abridged design cycle to rapidly generate divergent ideas for a device that would reduce the force of a descending object.
Once in the Design Center, students were introduced to the “drop zone” platform where their designs would be tested, as well as the process of recording data. Working in small teams, they then began making prototypes using simple materials.
Make, test, improve, repeat!
The project emphasized the collection and analysis of data to inform design refinements – essentially students had to demonstrate that iterations of their device improved over time in response to scientific data.
Among the highlights of our time together in the lab was the students’ wide range of creative ideas, as well as the ways in which they were able to link scientific principles with their design process.