Amazing Teaching Moment
An amazing teaching moment occurred when I taught Using Engineering Design to Create Straight Wheel Alignment When Building a Solar Powered Car. This lesson was adapted from the ‘Power Up’ curriculum sponsored by the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.
Alignment is a critical step in design of a car using solar power. As a result, students are required to apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a car prototype that will move in a straight line without the aid of other devices. My students learned to identify a problem, explore solutions, design a plan, create a model, test and revise, if needed. Students now understand that being precise and specific will allow a more successful outcome with their end product.
To begin this lesson, students worked with a team or pit crew. They were assigned team roles and then asked to research wheel alignment and aerodynamics. After thorough research and discussion, the class documented their findings. Afterwards, pupils were given an opportunity to select materials to build the car.
This lesson is special because of the engagement of my students. During the formative assessment of my teams, I observed students working collaboratively, discussing their problem and providing solutions. Additionally, my kids were so excited about this activity because they knew the next step would be to actually begin to build their car using solar panels to power the motor. During the summative assessment of the steps in the engineering process students demonstrated mastery. Ninety percent of the students scored 80% or above on their final test. Additionally, this lesson encompassed all the elements of STEM. The lesson was a real world example, student centered, required team effort and provided several opportunities for students to use technology.
STEMraderie: Ultimate STEM Lesson Components
Gretchen Brinza, Jeff Erickson, Sushma Lohitsa, and Darnella Wesley
1. Real World
3. Team Effort
4. Safe Space
5. Technology Opportunities
Real world application allows students to see learning has meaning beyond the classroom. It extends into the worlds in which they live, driving additional learning.
Student-centered learning is driven by the students. The teacher becomes a facilitator as students “run” the learning environment.
Everyone’s voices and experiences matter, no matter how big or small. Collaboration is at the forefront of both teaching and learning and respectful argument is encouraged.
Students feel safe in all aspects of their learning. They are encouraged to take risks, and failure is expected. From failure, real learning takes place.
Each lesson allows creative opportunities for real-time technology integration. As technology evolves, so can the lesson. Technology empowers student engagement and learning.