This is a multi-day activity that reinforces science, math, and technology skills by taking the students through the design process. Students will be tasked with designing and building a structure that could withstand high winds and water as would be found close to the seashore.
Discuss the damage shown in the video. What parts of the structure seemed weakest (windows, doorways, roofs)?
Ask: "What types of structures do you think are the strongest? Why?"
Show the PowerPoint slide show (attached) and discuss as each slide is presented.
Introduce the project and explain to students that they have just inherited beach front property.
Tell students that they will be tasked with designing and building three different houses: (1) single story, (2) multi-story, (3) non-rectangular. They will be working in groups to achieve their goals.
Explain that the students in the group will represent a contractor, building crew, and a realtor. The realtor will attempt to "sell" the house based on design, square footage, and cost by taking photos of the structures for display/presentation.
Review the requirements with students. Inform students that each plank costs $50.
Students will discuss ideas with their team and then be given a piece of paper on which to draw their three possible designs. The teacher may decide that there will be no flat roofs, but use your judgement based on the skills of your students.
Review mathematical formulas for finding area that have already been covered as part of the sixth-grade math curriculum.
Provide student groups with self evaluation and planning sheets (attached).
Explain to students that they will be given three planks to use as their base and that no other parts of the house may touch the building surface except for stairs. They get one class period to design and build.
Optional: Students purchase planks from the "Teacher Depot," if additional adult help is available.
Explain that before the end of class, the student cost sheet will need to be completed and the realtor must have used the camera (using iPad or similar) to take pictures of all four sides of the house so that the house can be listed for sale.
Students will need to determine the minimum cost per square foot and attach a cost to each house.
Test the structure's ability to withstand wind (blow dryer) and water (marbles). Place a jump rope around the perimeter of the house to catch the marbles and prevent them from rolling all over the floor.
Students should record data on their planning sheets (attached) and discuss with groups about what they should improve for the next design.
Following the same procedures and guidelines as above, students will build three new structures and test their ability to withstand wind and water. The students can build the three styles in any order. Remind the realtor to take the necessary pictures.
Test structures again. Record data and results. Give time for teams to discuss successes and failures.
Following the same procedures and guidelines as above, students will build their final three structures and test their ability to withstand wind and water. Record data and analyze results.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
Day 1 will be a teacher-led discussion on a real world problem of building a beach house on land just inherited on the coast. The structures must be built at sea level. Provide students with a budget of $20,000 to build. Ask students: "How will you determine your needs? How can you build a cost effective house that will please the consumer?"
Students will need to figure total area of the house to include in their "sale listing."
Students will work in their groups to design and then build their first structure.
The group realtor will take pictures of the first design.
The teacher should circulate to make sure students are following their plans and completing calculations correctly (for both square footage and cost of structure).
Ask students to explain their calculations and their plans to you.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
The teacher will provide directions throughout, but each day will be independent practice. The students will build at different paces.
Encourage slower groups to build faster in order to meet the deadline and encourage faster groups to add more details so their houses have curb appeal.
The realtor is in charge of designing a PowerPoint or some other form of presentation to show off or market the finished products. Requirements for the presentation include square footage of house, cost of build, and four pictures of house from all sides (rubric attached).
Each day students should be planning and building together in their groups. They should be discussing their ideas and trying to improve on their previous designs.
Suggest that some groups look at other group designs to gauge creativity of their structures.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
Students will present their final presentations (rubric attached) using images they took of their tests and results.
Teacher will facilitate a whole group discussion to talk about successes and failures.
Does scientific thinking change when new information is discovered?
What ideas did you see that you thought were really remarkable?
Which houses were most cost effective?
Students will complete post test (attached) following the discussion.
The teacher will determine if the students have reached the learning target by examining the designs and end products. The students will complete the self evaluation rubrics (attached), the planning sheet (attached), and their final presentation. All aspects of the project will be incorporated into evaluating using the final rubric (attached).
The teacher will gather information as the students collaborate in each group to decide how to design and build their structures.
The teacher will observe as students work to solve the problem.
As students work in teams, the teacher should circulate and ask students to explain their calculations. They should be able to demonstrate understanding of calculating area and of cost of structures.
The teacher will ask student teams to explain their changes from Day 1 to subsequent days so that the teacher can gauge understanding of the task and to see if they are using what they have learned in their new designs.
Feedback to Students
Students will receive encouraging feedback as the teacher facilitates and circulates the classroom. The teacher will question students informally about their ideas while monitoring the groups. Ask students to explain their designs and choices.
Accommodations & Recommendations
The students will be assigned by the teacher to cooperative, heterogeneous groups. The teacher will consider ability levels and skill sets when determining groups. Consider allowing all students in the group to participate as the realtor to develop the final presentation.
A research report on storm damage in Florida.
Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector
Special Materials Needed:
You can purchase KEVA planks from http://www.kevaplanks.com/. These are small wooden planks that have the ability to be used for a multitude of ideas and lessons over and over again. We have used them for STEM activities, storyboards, geography lessons, team building etc.
Other supplies needed:
Marbles (at least 100) in a plastic bin
Jump ropes (to circulate buildings for marble portion of the test)
Consider holding this activity in a large space so the students can build on the floor, not tables, for the purpose of sturdiness.
When using marbles:
Lay a jump rope around the perimeter of the structure.
Use a bin to hold all the marbles, then spill them by rolling them in one direction to simulate waves. The jump rope can be used to serve as a catch to keep the marbles in a small area.