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Cubelets Class Unit – Engineering and Design Principles

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    Christie Veitch

    This unit is designed for 4th through 8th grade classes to explore engineering and design principles. Students will experience innovation and making as a way to solve problems, and practice designing robotic solutions with Cubelets. Each lesson plan focuses on different aspects of engineering’s unique problem-solving strategies, and throughout the whole unit students learn, ““Engineers are a kind of scientist that use their skills and creativity to solve problems or change a situation by designing or making something innovative.” Engineers work in lots of fields and follow a similar process and ask the same questions:

    First – What is the problem? What situation would we like to change?  Second – What kinds of solutions could make this better? What could we make that would change this situation? Third – When we try our solution – how well does it work? How do we know if this solution was successful?”

    Lesson 1 – Introduction to Engineering

    Students are introduced to defining a problem or challenge, proposing solutions, and assessing success and also consider different kinds of engineering. Students also practice problem solving and designing solutions with Cubelets.

    Lesson 2 – How does it work?

    Students begin with working robots. By interacting and investigating these robots, students gain understanding of robotic components. As they explore how Cubelet components combine to form robots, they practice making and understanding design decisions.

    Lesson 3 – Reverse Engineering

    Students begin with working robots and by reverse engineering them learn how these Cubelet components are pieces that combine to form a whole robot. Students are guided to investigate reverse engineering and to comprehend components by reorienting individual components while keeping them in the same sequence, resequencing components before adding or changing any, and finally making design decision to add, subtract, or change components and robotic functions.

    Lesson 4 – Criteria and Constraints

    Students work to design robots with respect to criteria and constraints, deepening their understanding of the Engineering Design Process while tackling interesting challenges.

    Lesson 5 – Design Thinking

    Often Engineers need to consider who will use the solutions they make and design. Student engineers continue to: define what the problem is, propose solutions, now keeping in mind any constraints or user requirements, and then ask, “Is it successful?” by looking at who is using it and how it’s being used. Students will consider how different users might use the same thing differently, or might need different solutions altogether and also explore how designing solutions should take into account who will use the solution, and how they will use it.



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