Engineering Design Challenge (4th – 6th Grades)

Beavers are engineering geniuses. In this two-part lesson, learn how beavers transform their environment and then apply Engineering Design principles to create a structurally sound dam. Match wits with beavers to design, test, and redesign your group’s project!

Program option: Your location. Note that this is a 2 day lesson.

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas:

  • Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction. (4th grade: 4-LS1-1)
  • The energy released from food was once energy from the sun that was captured by plants in the chemical process that forms plant matter (from air and water). (5th grade: 5-PS3-1)
  • Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with non-living factors. (6th grade: MS-LS2-1)
  • Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources. (6th grade: MS-LS2-1)
  • Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints). The success of a designed solution is determined by considering the desired features of a solution (criteria). Different proposals for solutions can by compared on the basis of how well each one meets the specified criteria for success or how well each takes the constraints into account. (4th-5th grades: 3-5-ETS1-1)
  • At whatever stage, communicating with peers about proposed solutions is an important part of the design process, and shared ideas can lead to improved designs. (4th-5th grades: 3-5-ETS1-2)
  • Tests are often designed to identify failure points or difficulties, which suggest the elements of a design that need to be improved. (4th-5th grades:3-5-ETS1-3)
  • The more precisely a design task’s criteria and constraints can be defined, the more likely it is that the designed solution will be successful. (6th grade: MS-ETS1-1)
  • There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem. (6th grade: MS-ETS1-2)
  • Sometimes parts of different solutions can be combined to create a solution that is better than any of its predecessors. (6th grade: MS-ETS1-3)
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