Name of Activity Invent a Backscratcher from Everyday Materials
Author Tufts STOMP
Keywords found materials, recyclables, design, assessment
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students are given a variety of every day materials and recyclables. With these materials, students will need to create a back-scratching device. Once all the students have completed their backscratchers, they are assessed within the class.
Lesson Objectives: To learn about designing for real life problems.
Materials Needed: Tape
Paper towel rolls
Any other materials the instructor wishes to provide.
  1. Prepare a table or station with the materials the students will use. Make sure that there are enough materials for the class.
  2. Introduce the activity and allow the students to look over the materials so that they can brainstorm.
    1. Pose some questions to help with brainstorming:
      1. What is a good design for a backscratcher?
      2. Which is it hard to scratch your back?
      3. Why is it better to use a backscratcher than use your hand?
  3. Have students brainstorm their idea on a sheet of paper, they must sketch their design before they are allowed to build.
  4. Check that designs are well thought out and not dangerous before allowing students to start their projects.
  5. When students have completed their backscratchers, have students lay them out on a table so that everyone in the class can see each design. Encourage student to carefully try out different designs. Remind them to be respectful of everyone’s designs.
  6. After everyone has had a chance to see all the designs, gather the students for a class discussion. Ask students:
    1. What worked best?
    2. What materials did you use? Which materials worked best?
    3. What would you do differently?
    4. What else could you use to build a backscratcher?
    5. What else could the backscratcher be used for?
    6. What is your favorite design and why?
    7. What makes the designs different from each other?
Extensions: Students an make an advertisement for their backscratcher.
Reference 1
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