Here’s a fun engineering Forces Webquest Freebie for you. My students have been studying engineering design and how failure leads to innovation. It’s been such a great start to the year because it has given us the opportunity to create the understanding that “All good structures have strong foundations” (freebie poster of this quote). We talk about how this is true in all venues of life and then turn our attention to engineering design and how more often than not, engineers are met with design constraints and failures. This shouldn’t be thought of in the traditional sense of the word though… a failure in engineering is just information about what doesn’t work.
We started our unit by building towers made of three cups, one sheet of construction paper, and 50 cm of tape. From there we studied how structures fail with a focus on the Tower of Pisa. I found this great video that explains what happened and how the engineers attempted to keep the tower from falling.
We then read about the Loma Prieta earthquake that happened in 1989. A section of the Bay Bridge collapse, leading to the construction of a new design that worked better for an area that experiences so much of the earth’s movement.
This lead us to our focus of forces that act on objects. In my search for good material, I came across this great resource created and developed by PBS. The Forces Lab teaches students the technical terms for various forces, loads, materials (which I didn’t use in the webquest), and strength of shapes. The students developed such a strong understanding of these design principles. I also used some of the “mini activities” and “straw shapes” lab to reinforce their learning.
You can download Forces Webquest Freebie here!
Want to know what’s up next with my kiddos? They’ll take their understanding of the design principles we’ve discussed and BUILD BRIDGES! I’m tracking their progress with these super-awesome engineering design process posters.
Check back for more details as our bridges are built! Here’s a design plan for one of my student team’s bridges… I can’t wait to see it!