Yearly Case Study Task

Would love some feedback on this…

Case Study Yearly Task

Research Questions
1. What are the developmental milestones in young children’s engineering skills?
2. How will the deliberate teaching of engineering at a young age affect subsequent interest in engineering?
3. How do schools promote or inhibit the natural engineering instincts of children?

Task

Students will be taken out of class and asked to build an interesting bridge using the given materials. The observer may ask the student to describe what they are doing but will not help or direct the student. Students will be filmed by a camcorder placed in an unobtrusive location.

Available Materials
• Wooden blocks
• Lego WeDo Robotics kit
• Lego NXT Mindstorms Robotics Kit
• Laptop
• Supply of large white paper (11×14) and sticky notes
• Markers, crayons, pencils, pens
• Scissors

Timing

Case study students (3 boys and 3 girls) will be asked to do this task every year in the spring from grades K to 6. It will take place after their yearly classroom robotics unit(s). Students will have up to 1 hour to build their bridge. Picture will be taken of final product. Student notes, if any, will be scanned. All artifacts, photos, and videos will be marked by student name/code and date.

Interview Questions (may be modified as needed for student and age)

1. Describe your bridge, how it works, the parts, etc.
2. What problems did you solve to make your bridge?
3. How do you feel about your bridge now? When you were making it?
4. Did you plan the bridge on paper or in your head before you made it? Did your plans change as you built the bridge?

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2 Responses to Yearly Case Study Task

  1. Wayne Burnett says:

    I like the way you are trying to document the development of their engineering skills. A few thoughts:

    a. The materials are a bit robotics biased. You might include (for the younger kids) a box of just Lego bricks and also more non-Lego stuff than just the bricks (e.g. Popsicle sticks, glue, string, etc.). Unless you really want to focus on the robotics potential.

    b. The number of students is manageable but I would be a bit concerned that if one or two move, you would lose the ability to measure sufficiently.

    c. Going somewhat against my (a), might the range of materials perhaps slow down students as they figure out what they can use. The youngest kids aren’t going to successfully use the NXT.

    d. Will there be any bridge activities at all in class?

    Keep up the great work and thoughts!

    Cheers, Wayne

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