Monday, April 24, 2017

The Design Process in Action: Natural Disasters and Littlebits

A few weeks back I was able to work with the 6th grade social studies classes using the design cycle and littelbits.  They were studying Southeast Asia and some of the environmental processes that affect the region, such as monsoons, erosion, and tectonic plate movement.   It went so well and the 4C's were on full display throughout the lesson. 

I wanted to share this idea with others in hopes someone will take this lesson and make it even better!

Each class was divided into 4 groups and each group was assigned a disaster to learn more about and invent something to help the people affected.  We started with the following slides presentation and reviewed what natural disaster were (something they had just studied in science classes) and a brief view of what littlebits were.  

Originally we had a QR code on each table that the group would scan to learn more about their assigned disaster, but connectivity issues proved to be too much so we made a montage clip of the disasters and watched them as a class.

I would emphasize that the bits are fragile and need to not be knocked on the floor. (Things that I see happen when folks move too fast.) On each table there was a list of the group roles and each group will also need a copy of the graphic organizer.  We found the roles to be helpful so that everyone had a job to do. 

Once the graphic organizer was filled in and the group had a plan, the building began.  (Some groups took a bit of coaching to get to that point, but they all made it!)

Each group got one STEM kit of Littlebits and access to paper, tape, markers, and legos.   They were to build a prototype and pitch it on camera.   

Ways to improve or extend this activity:
  • Shark Tank spin - we thought of this later, we could have had them pitch their ideas to a group of "sharks" to see if they could get an investment in their idea.  They would use the persuasive techniques they had learned in ELA classes.
  • Math - another cross-curricular idea would be to give them a budget and charge for each littlebits piece they used along with paper, tape, legos, etc.   They would need to design something that came under budget.

Overall it was a great lesson and all kids were engaged with the process.   


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