Monday, December 16, 2013

Teaching Science with Kidlit: NGSS Performance Expectation 1-LS1-1, Part 5

1-LS1-1. Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs. [Clarification Statement: Examples of human problems that can be solved by mimicking plant or animal solutions could include designing clothing or equipment to protect bicyclists by mimicking turtle shells, acorn shells, and animal scales; stabilizing structures by mimicking animal tails and roots on plants; keeping out intruders by mimicking thorns on branches and animal quills; and, detecting intruders by mimicking eyes and ears.]

We’ve looked at this PE in a whole bunch of different ways over the last few weeks, but the trickiest part of all is the engineering component. Some of you say, “Why are second graders supposed to look at this content through an engineering lens?” It’s a god question, and I don’t have a good answer. If I were writing standards, I wouldn’t have done this, but when given lemons . . .

Here are a few books that really can help you make lemonade, so to speak:

Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty

Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff

Baby Brains and RoboMom by Simon James +

How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by  Rosalyn Schanzer

Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Flemming

Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci by Gene Baretta

Mining the Book
After reading Winter's Tail, work with r class to create a table that focuses on the problems the team faced while designing and building the prosthesis and how they dealt with each challenge. The table might look something like this:
No tail joint for attaching the prosthesis
Made a mold of her tail stub and created a sleeve that fits her body perfectly
Worried about irritating Winter’s skin
Developed special silicone gel that made prosthesis comfortable
The prosthesis must mimic real tail movements
After several tries, developed a design with two sleeves
Winter might not like wearing the prosthesis
Trainers worked with Winter

Then ask the following questions:
·   How did the people in this book solve Winter’s problem? (They designed a prosthetic tail and trained Winter to use it.)

·   How did Winter’s prosthetic tail mimic, or work in the same way as, a real dolphin tail? (It powered Winter through the water by moving up and down.)

Turn to the backmatter section entitled “Kevin Carroll and Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics.” After paraphrasing the information in this section in student-friendly language, ask the following questions:
·   Was Kevin the only person from Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics involved in solving Winter’s problem?

·   What do you think are the advantages of working as part of a team?

Now write the following steps on a chart paper and let your class know that they represent the steps scientists and engineers usually follow when designing and building something new:
1. Identify a Problem
2. Identify Challenges
3. Share Ideas
4. Design
5. Build
6. Test
Compare the steps to the process described in Winter’s Tail. How are they similar? How are they different?

Divide the students into five design teams and assign each team one of the following design tasks:
  • You need to water a vegetable garden, but the garden hose is full of holes and you can’t get to the store to buy a new hose.
  • You need to clean up a wad of gum stuck to the ceiling before your mom gets home.
  • You need to get a bouncy ball trapped under a dresser. 
  • You need to clean up a spill, but you don’t have paper towels or a sponge.
  • You need to find your way around a dark place without a flashlight, candles, or anything else that produced light.

Let students know that to solve their assigned problem, they will design a gadget that mimics, or works in the same way as, one of the plant or animal body parts in the data table below.

Plant/Animal Part and Use Data Table

Plant/Animal Part

How It Is Used

Tree trunk

Carries water from the tree’s roots to its leaves

Tree roots

Soaks up water

Mole nose

Has sensors that help a mole avoid getting lost in underground tunnels

Anteater tongue

Sticks way out to catch food

Gecko feet

Can walk up walls and across ceilings, so a gecko can find food and escape from enemies

 Ask students to review the six-step design process one more time. Explain that since they now know the problem (Step 1) and the challenge (Step 2), each team should brainstorm to share ideas on small, handheld whiteboards (Step 3) as they develop a design. Encourage the children to use their imaginations for this activity. Let them know that that even though the people in Winter’s Tail built and tested their designs, the class’s final step will be to draw a visual model (picture) of their group’s design (Step 4).

When the students have finished the activity, invite the groups take turns sharing their visual models with the class. As the children present, encourage them to explain their designs and how they mimic the actions of their assigned plant or animal body parts.

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