How Do Engineers Solve Problems?
In this fun video lesson, students will pretend to be engineers at an engineering company that constructs paper airplanes. They will identify the criteria for success from provided readings and define the constraints on their solutions. Using the engineering design process they will prototype, test, and deliver their best paper airplanes.
- Practice using the engineering design process.
- Identify criteria for success and constraints on materials and time.
- Understand the benefits of specifying constraints and criteria for success early in an engineering task.
For the class:
- Open, indoor space for throwing paper airplanes (at least seven meters, with no furniture in the way).
- Tape measure
- Chalk or painters tape to indicate the target area and the throwing line on the floor.
- Printer paper (at least 16 sheets per team). Alternatively, you can let your students use colored construction paper.
- Optional: materials that can be useful for making paper airplanes. These materials are not required; you can decide what to use based on what you have available in your classroom.
- Paper clips
- Colored markers
- Optional: calculator for calculating average distance
Students should have Pages 1-2 of the worksheet at the start of the lesson. Pages 3-9 can be handed out before they start the explore section.
Prepare the test site before the students are ready to test their planes (time stamp 55:25 in the explore video). Use tape or chalk to tape or draw the throw line and the target area on the floor.
Students might like to throw the airplanes a few times as practice, before throwing them to test the performance of the airplanes.
The explore section of the video does not need to be done in one session. If needed, you can easily halt the lesson at the following points:
- Before or after doing background research (at 9:38 or 16:20 in the explore video). Reading the background research paper can be assigned as homework. The students should, however, be given time to discuss the background reading in their groups.
- Between producing the prototypes and testing (at 55:25).
- Just after testing, before evaluating the test data (57:20).