Name of Unit Engineering Design
Author(s) Emily Taintor + Tim Hellickson
School Winship
Teacher Wilson + McEnaney
Brief Description Students will be introduced to a range of engineering disciplines. They will be taught about electrical engineering, computer engineering, and service learning through engineering design.
Grade(s) 5
Keywords Engineering design process, electrical engineering, computer engineering, app development, app, 5th grade, Winship School, Katie McEnaney, Benny Wilson
Number of Weeks 9
Week 1 Intro to Engineering -

  • Discussion of what engineering is
  • Definition and Introduction: Civil Engineering
  • Spaghetti Bridges + Towers
  • Test the bridges with a toy car + two wood blocks
  • Towers had to hold a marshmallow in the air
Week 2 Build an App - Week 1

  • We started this activity with an introduction to the Engineering Design Process as most students hadn’t seen it much before
  • Really emphasized how important failure is to the engineering process, tried to make the word failure sound less intimidating and more exciting
  • Introduced the vocabulary words of client and solution first in context of the world in general and then more specifically in an engineering design problem
  • Tried to stress the difference between a cool new product (like iPads for everybody instead of textbooks) and a solution (a better way to carry textbooks around so that your back and shoulders don’t hurt)
  • Students started to come up with some ideas for problems in their community
  • Concepts for apps started popping up
Week 3 Build an App – Week 2

  • Concepts for apps were developed more fully
  • Students created their “brand” by designing their home page
  • Wireframes were created and functionalities were designed
  • Students presented their work to the rest of the class including what the purpose of their app is and what problem it solves as well as what happens when certain things are clicked and how the app works
Week 4 Intro to Electricity + Electrical Engineering- Basic terms and concepts- Series vs. Parallel drillsSince our students had very little experience with electricity other than what some of them had learned outside of school, we spent a lot of time going over vocabulary. After introducing lots of vocabulary words we talked about how the certain things we introduced interacted and gave some big-picture-esque metaphors for electricity to make it a more accessible concept. Once they had an understanding of what electricity is in broad terms we introduced circuits in series and in parallel. We did some drills of determining if a circuit (drawn on the board) was series or parallel or both and asked students to come up one by one to categorize a circuit.
Week 5 Intro to Electricity – Act Out Electricity!Our numbers were off this week so we had a lot less students than we thought we would, which forced us to make only two groups. This made it a little harder because there were a lot of students to work with in each group but the students caught on pretty well to the way the activity was supposed to be teaching them about electricity and the movement and opportunity to kind of ‘play’ was an effective way to keep them engaged for the whole class period.
Week 6 LEGO House WEEK 1 – Planning and Beginning ConstructionIntroducing the constraints for this project and delivering materials to each group took up a lot of time in this class because students were excited and not terribly focused. They started working and built the beginnings of their final houses.
Week 7 LEGO House WEEK 2 – Continuing Construction and Designing CircuitsStudents continued working on their houses today and started designing the circuits that would light up their house. Unfortunately we only had one light bulb per student group so the circuits didn’t need much “designing” but we had students draw out the circuit that they wanted before they installed it.
Week 8 LEGO House WEEK 3 – Finishing Construction and Beginning to Build CircuitsStudents finished their houses for the most part, with a few construction disasters here and there. Students also made their circuits independent of their house out of playdough, a battery, and a bulb in order to make sure it worked and all the components worked before they tried to put it in their house.
Week 9 LEGO House WEEK 4 – Finishing Circuits and PresentingStudents installed their squishy circuits into their LEGO houses and presented their work to the rest of the class! It was great to see the variety of solutions – in the LEGO house construction not in the circuits design (due to lack of materials, not lack of creativity). We assembled all the houses in the class on a big LEGO base in a ‘neighborhood’ and turned off the lights while all the houses were lit with different colored bulbs so the students their final projects!

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