Design Thinking and Scientific Research in Action

Students in Michelle Brown’s 7th grade Life Science course recently designed and produced fidgets as part of their in-depth exploration of one of the course’s essential questions:  “How are the scientific method and engineering design process used to understand the world?”. During an in-class discussion, the students posed questions relating to how fidgets support focus. Given the courses’ commitment to scientific inquiry and design thinking, Mrs. Brown acted on this opportunity to engage students in a topic they are interested in, and in a way that fulfills the academic benchmarks of the course.

Mrs. Brown tasked students to design a fidget; each with three separate components. Each component must be designed with the intention to assist with focus. Prior to engaging in the design process the students had to research how fidgets support focus. Once the students completed their research, they then identified three components to use in their fidget design. Each of these components was then justified using the scientific writing strategy CER (claim, evidence, and rationale).

Upon completion of their research and CER explanation of their designs, the students began to sketch their fidgets. Using TinkerCAD, students turned their sketches into 3D design prototypes. As many students were using TinkerCad for the first time, this project also allowed them to engage in active problem solving requiring multiple attempts and re-designs. Proudly persevering, the 7th graders then printed their fidgets using a 3D printer.

Two students use TinkerCAD to turn their sketches into 3D design prototypes.
Two students in Middle School science class use  TinkerCAD to turn their sketches into 3D design prototypes.

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