At the Tufts Lego Engineering Symposium, we were assigned the task of making a drawing of a device that could hover in a vertical wind tunnel powered by a fan. After time ran out, we were told that the we should pass the drawing and our device to another team to implement the modifications. While drawing, there was not a strong motivation to make a good drawing. Of course, if we knew that it would be used, there would have been a strong motivation.
It got me thinking about how many of our teacher requests for documenting the engineering process are not authentic. Given the materials that we had in front of us and the complexity of the task, a drawing was not really needed. I thought of the following diagram to show what is and what is not an authentic drawing.
By internal, I mean drawing to help you or your team understand the problem or solution and not specifically meant to shared outside of the project. By external, I mean drawings shared outside of the team in a meaningful way, such as drawings for someone else to build from, but NOT something just for the teacher to look at.
I think we mostly ask kids to provide low complexity drawings for us and not for an authentic audience. How can we move into the other boxes? Make sure there is enough complexity that a diagram is needed and/or provide an authentic audience of their peers.