Mousetrap Problem

ACTIVITY HEADER

 

 

 

Name of Activity Mousetrap – Problem
Author Terry Greene, Merredith Portsmore, Abe Gissen
Keywords Engineering Design Process, problem, research, brainstorm, mousetrap, motor, sensor
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will use steps of the Engineering Design Process to learn about a problem; Identify the Problem, Research the Problem, Brainstorm Possible Solutions. Students will be able to describe the need for mousetraps, different type of mousetraps and possible ways to trap a mouse.

The design challenge is for the students to work as a class to design and build a mousetrap sculpture that has at least nine movable parts, which are connected together. Small groups will work on each part. Each part must use one motor and one sensor.

Lesson Objectives: To understand the steps of the Engineering Design Process
Materials Needed: Mousetrap Game by Milton Bradley
Poster of the design process
Easel with plenty of paper for drafting
Preparation and Set Up: Set up the classroom for easy classroom discussion.
Make a poster of the Engineering Design Process to use as an aid.
Procedure
  1. Have the students play the Mousetrap Game by Milton Bradley.
  2. In a large group, discuss engineering:
    1. Ask if anyone knows an engineer.
    2. Ask what an engineer does
    3. Discuss what engineers do and what kinds of jobs use engineers.
  3. Display the steps of the Engineering Design Process. Go over each step on the poster and explain that, over the next few weeks, students will use all the steps; working like engineers to complete a challenge.
  4. Discuss the Mousetrap Game
    1. Ask individuals to share their favorite part of the game.
    2. Make connections to simple machines.
    3. Ask students how an engineer might have been involved in designing the game.
  5. Present the design challenge
    1. Tell the students that they are engineers working for a toy company.
    2. They have been asked to design a new toy to be modeled after the Mousetrap Game.
    3. The design challenge is for the students to work as a class to design and build a mousetrap sculpture that has at least nine movable parts, which are connected together. Small groups will work on each part. Each part must use one motor and one sensor.
    4. Explain that the students have already completed steps 1 and 2 of the Engineering Design Process
      1. Identify the Need/Problem
        1. By listening to what the teacher has assigned as the design challenge.
      2. Research the Need/Problem
        1. By playing the game.
  6. Have student brainstorm possible solutions (step 3 of the Engineering Design Process). Draw on math and science to articulate the solutions in two and three dimensions.
  7. Use an easel to record ideas and brainstorm possible ideas for different parts of the mousetrap.
  8. Try to make a list of about 25 possible parts of a mousetrap.
  9. Save these ideas for Day 2.

Day 2:

  1. Review the brainstorming session the class participated in on Day 1.
  2. Explain that the next step in the Engineering Design Process is to Select the Best Possible Solution to the Problem.
  3. Brainstorm a list of criteria for the mousetrap with the students.
  4. Go through the list of original parts and cross out ones that do not meet the criteria.
  5. Set up teams of students (usually 2 works best).
  6. Have each team talk about the different parts and decide on 2 – 3 that they would like to build.
  7. As a large group (whole class), decide which team will build which part of the mousetrap and record this on the easel.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/1ideascriteria-1.doc
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/1ideascriteria.doc
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/mousetrapoverview.doc
Online Reference(s) http://www.ceeo.tufts.edu/robolabatceeo/-CEEOCurriculumWebsite
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Mousetrap

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