I focused on project based learning for my summative assessment. I also used Doctopus to distribute the project document to my students and I plan to use Goobric to grade the assignment. The day-by-day plan for my project is listed below.
- Students were divided into groups and assigned a specific topic about space to research. The topics ranged from the Space Race to future space vehicles. Students created some type of presentation to share with the class. Some students created Google Presentations or timelines using Google Draw. Other students created posters by hand.
- Students did a project walk and went from project to project to learn more about space travel. They were told to focus on how space travel has evolved and on what is necessary for all successful space travel.
- Students learn that efficient/cost effective rockets are necessary for the success of the space program.
- Students are then introduced to their project with a letter. Please click on the link below to see the letter.
- Students learn that their goal is to determine the best design for optimal model rocket performance. They will work in groups and change parts of the rocket (fin shape, nose cone shape, paint versus no paint, amount of thrust, etc.) to determine how changing the variables impacts the path of the rocket and the height the model rocket reaches.
- Before students are able to modify and test their model rockets, they need to learn about the parts of a rocket and Newton’s Laws of Motion. The Rocket Education Company (the company for whom they are testing rockets) wants students to be able to explain how and why their rocket is able to fly and reach a certain height.
- In order to teach students about the parts of a model rocket, I created a presentation in Near Pod. Near Pod allows me to add quizzes, polls, and questions to my presentation. The students answer these questions or polls using a device. The screenshot below shows an example from my Near Pod presentation.
- Students are divided into groups and begin researching factors that will impact the height a model rocket will reach. Groups determine which factors they would like to test (number of fins, material for fins, paint versus no paint on body, etc.).
- Each group will make two rockets to test their variables.
- Students will start building their rockets.
- Students will fly their rockets outside and measure the altitude reached.
- After testing their rockets, students will gather their data and organize it. They will then summarize their data.
- Students will start making their recommendations for the Rocket Education Group using the form at the link below. I distributed this form to students using Doctopus and plan to grade it using Goobric.
- Students will finalize their recommendations using the form above.
- Students will be graded using the rubric at the link below. I moved this rubric into a spreadsheet and plan to use Goobric to assess students.
The Model Rocket Design Project addresses the following Minnesota science standards:
- Apply and document an engineering design process that includes identifying criteria and constraints, making representations, testing and evaluation, and refining the designs as needed to construct a product or system that solves a problem.
- Recognize that when forces acting on an object are balanced, the object remains at rest or continues to move at a constant speed in a straight line, and that unbalanced forces cause a change in the speed or direction of the motion of an object.
- Identify forces acting on an object and describe how the sum of the forces affects the motion of an object.
- Explain and calculate the acceleration of an object subjected to a set of forces in one dimension (F=ma).
- Demonstrate that whenever one object exerts a force on another, a force equal in direction is exerted by the second object back on the first object.
How the Assessment is Authentic
- This assessment is authentic because students are able to act as engineers and go through the engineering design process. They are addressing a problem that NASA is currently facing, which is developing efficient and cost effective rockets. As a class, we discuss how engineers often start with models when solving a problem. They then take what they learn from models and apply that to real life designs. The students are starting at the model stage and will provide recommendations based on the model.
My goal for this project was to make the building of model rockets more authentic for students. As I was going through the project based learning materials, I learned that to make a project authentic it’s important to give the students real problems to solve and to provide them with choice. It’s also essential to begin with the end in mind. I took these factors into account and presented students with the real problem first. Students learned about space travel through group presentations and found that efficient, cost effective rockets are essential for space travel. We then talked as a class about how engineers often start with a model/prototype of a product first and then apply what they learn to the actual product. I told students that they would be the engineers in the first phase and presented them with the problem, which was described in the project letter above. I found that providing students with the problem first helped them to focus on the content they were learning. It made it more meaningful for them.
I also learned a lot about technology tools while working on this project. Near pod is a great tool for helping students to engage during the presentation of material. They were able to answer questions and participate in polls using their devices. Doctopus was a great tool to use for distributing the project sheet to students. I have all of their project sheets in a folder in my google drive. It will make grading the projects a lot easier. I’m excited to try goobric when I grade the projects. It was very easy to link my rubric in with doctopus using goobric, so I’m hoping that will make the grading of the projects more efficient.