TIP #5 - General: The Engineering Design Process
Hiding In Plain Sight - The Engineering Design Process
The Tool You Use Without Knowing It
Despite what the name might suggest, the engineering design process (EDP) is not any different than the creative or iterative process. In fact, you follow the same basic steps in the EDP as you do if you are writing a story or painting a picture.
Those steps require you:
Those steps require you:
- Step 1: Start with a question, problem, or goal. Define constraints and criteria for success.
- Step 2: Think about all the possibilities—a.k.a., brainstorm.
- Step 3: Decide which ideas from the brainstorming you want to use.
- Step 4: Create your first draft, prototype or version.
- Step 5: Get feedback and improve your design, story or picture.
The engineering design process is most effective when students are active participants in each step, rather than following a rigid set of instructions or directions. While this doesn’t mean the process must be 100% flexible, it does mean there must be room for student input along the way. The table below outlines some examples on how to include student participation in each step.
The CreositySpace approach
CreositySpace units have a broad range of lesson scaffolding designed to facilitate student input. In many cases each step begins with a group discussion to identify specific student ideas and interests which can be incorporated. While the detailed teacher lesson description clearly indicates what must be accomplished in each step to adequately address the standards, there is flexibility in how they choose to accomplish that goal. These details can be determined by student interests identified during the preceding discussion. Two examples—one from Mushroom Maestros (grade 3) and one from Green Architects (grade 2)—are provided below
Left: Excerpt from the Mushroom Packaging design challenge in Mushroom Maestros. Students begin with a class wide discussion on common packaging—the function, the issues, and requirements for an improved packaging material. Students use the design challenges and performance criteria they identify in this discussion to evaluate the materials they develop during the design challenge.
Right: Excerpt from The Wall is ALIVE! investigation in Green Architects. Students must perform experiments to gather data and support the conclusion that plants need light and water to grow. Students are given the opportunity to determine some of the testing conditions—so that they develop ownership in the experiment—but the teacher still has the final authority to make sure a suitable range of conditions is chosen to enable students to determine that light and water are required.