Brief Description: Students discuss how engineers have to consider the audience that they are designing for before creating a design. Students will use this discussion to design a vehicle for a monster with specific needs.

Grades: K-5

Time: 1 hour

Keywords: user-centered design, human factors engineering, prototyping


Lesson Objectives

  • Students will understand targeting audiences in engineering design.
  • Students will practice drawing and producing prototypes.

Materials

  • Large poster sized paper
  • Large colored markers
  • Monster Bike Handouts

Procedure

  1. Discuss user-centered design and human factors engineering.  
    1. When engineers design machines, they have to be aware of the audience that they are targeting with their product. there are many features of the bike that make it not only pleasing to the human eye, but comfortable and practical for human use. for example, a bike for a little girl might be small enough for her, have training wheels to help her ride, and be painted her favorite color.
    2. There are many questions that an engineer has ask about their user. A few examples are:
      1. Who is the user?
      2. What sort of features does the target user wand on their machine?
      3. What does the audience like? dislike?
      4. What can the user do? not do?
      5. Does the product look appealing to the user?
      6. Does the product function for the user?
  2. Have students brainstorm what a vehicle would look like if the user was a monster. Tell students that, like a bike, the monster will power the vehicle. Tell the students that their vehicle does not have to look anything like a bike and to be creative.
  3. The monster:
    1. Is as tall as three people.
    2. Weighs 500 pounds.
    3. Has three very long arms.
    4. Has no eyes.
    5. Uses his front antennae to feel around.
    6. Gets seasick when he leans forward.
    7. Can hear very well.
    8. Can blow lots and lots of air.
    9. Has a very large bottom.
    10. Likes to ride over rocky and hilly surfaces.
    11. Has very short legs and small feet.
    12. Has a very delicate head.
    13. Has very large hands.
  4. Have the students draw out their prototype of the vehicle on the poster. Have each group pick a catchy slogan to write on the poster.
  5. On the worksheet (see Resources), have students write down features of the vehicle and why they included these features.
  6. Display the posters in the front of the class.
  7. Allow each group to show off 2 -3 features of their vehicle and share why they included them as if they were selling the vehicle to the monster.
  8. Have a class discussion about the designs. Ask students:
    1. Which of the monster’s characteristics made it most difficult to design the vehicle?
    2. Are any features on different groups designs similar? Why or why not?
    3. Would this vehicle work for a human? Why or why not?
    4. Which features would the monster like the best? Which would he dislike?

Resources

 

Tufts Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program • 200 Boston Ave. • Suite G810 • Medford, MA • 617-627-5888

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