Assessment / Sample Lessons

Open Task – Grade 5 or 7 Science: Building Structures

Culminating Task

 After reviewing sample stories featuring historic or famous bridges, exploring “Superstructures” videos on the topic and further connected activities, students will be expected to produce a quality structure within certain budgetary constraints.  This activity requires students to put themselves in the shoes of the architects and engineers who every day build essential structures within similar restrictions and challenges.

This task represents an interdisciplinary and open task, which demonstrates my ability to interweave complementary skills and topics.  It also offers the students the chance to become skilled persuaders, designers, and number-crunchers, within a meaningful and engaging context.  It allows me to differentiate within the assignment by altering or extending expectations.

Science Curriculum

Grade 5 (Adaptable for Grade 7)– Structures and Mechanisms:

Forces Acting on Structures and Mechanisms.

Specific Expectations

Formulate questions about and identify needs and problems related to structures and mechanisms in the outdoor environment, and explore possible answers and solutions

– Design and make a frame structure that can support a load.

– Cut, join and rearrange pliable and rigid materials to make an object.

– identify modifications intended to improve the performance, aesthetic appeal, and impact on the environment of a product they designed;

– identify specific considerations in the actual manufacture of a product that they have designed and made

Interdisciplinary Connections

 Math

Number Sense and Numeration

1.1: represent, compare, and order whole numbers and decimal numbers from 0.01 to 100 000, using a variety of tools

1.8: read and write money amounts to $1000 (e.g., $455.35 is 455 dollars and 35 cents, or four hundred fifty-five dollars and thirty-five cents);

Measurement

2.1: select and justify the most appropriate standard unit (i.e., millimetre, centimetre, decimetre, metre, kilometre) to measure length, height, width, and distance

2.2: solve problems requiring conversion from metres to centimetres and from kilometres to metres

The Arts

D1.4 – use a variety of materials, tools, and techniques to determine solutions to design challenges

Teacher’s Outline

Cumulative Assignment

To complete a unit on bridge types and structural knowledge, students will design and build a bridge according to specific limitations and specifications.   We will create a presentation to communicate the rationale behind the design, and how we managed the limits and needs of the task.

Step 1 – Bridge Designing (Two or three classes)

Hook

You are an architect who has been tasked with designing a bridge for your local community.  The bridge will need to be 3 kilometers long, at least one kilometer tail, and strong enough to carry the heavy amount of daily traffic in the area.

 Task

Based on our research and understanding of the various types of bridges and their structural properties, you will need to choose the type of bridge you will design (Suspension, Arch or Truss). Individually, sketch a blueprint for a bridge you think will do the job.  The blueprints must adhere to the professional standards established in previous course work.

 Evaluation

Individual Evaluation : See the attached rubric and explanation task for specific criteria.

 

Step 2 – Design Selection and Preliminary Model Building

(Two-Three Classes)

Hook:

Prepare a brief oral presentation (2 minutes maximum) persuading the local community (your group members) of the benefits of your bridge, and the reasons why you have designed it this way.

 

Task

As a group of two to three students, choose the one bridge design you think will best meet the needs of the community.  Using the Pricing Guide, estimate the costs of the bridge. (See attached example as sample for students’ individual peer assessment of collaborative work.)  Create  a graph or chart to inform the public of the cost of your bridge design.

 

Pricing of Materials

The prices of materials are as follows: toothpicks – $50 each, glue – $500 to use for the project, popsicle sticks – $500 each, wire – $1000 per length, screws $100 each, nuts – $100 each, straws – $500 each, string – $500 per length, ball bearings – $100 each.  (etc.)

Evaluation

Students will self evaluate daily on their contribution to the project.

Step 3 – Budget Problems (One to two classes)

 

Due to recent cutbacks, the community’s resources have been limited: the total budget cannot exceed $10 000.

If your bridge is over-budget, modifications must be made to your bridge design!  Using a photocopy of your original design and a differently coloured pen or pencil, create a new blueprint for any modifications made.   You will now build a scale model using the resources, within budget. Along with your model, create a budget presentation that will show where you spent your money, and that you stayed under budget.  Use a chart to do so.

 

As a class, we will test our bridges, using methods we have devised.  Each group will discuss their bridge and come up with one improvement they can make to the structure.

Evaluation

Individual Evaluation on budget charts and model

Teacher’s Notes: Encourage the groups to explain the reasons why they chose their design and the difficulties they encountered and how they solved them. What would they do differently next time?

Sample Handouts

Bridge Design Project – Step 1

Design

The local community needs a new bridge!  They have approached you, the local architect, to design it, but have a few requirements.  The bridge goes over a river which is 250 metres deep, and the design requires another 250 metres of clearance between the river and the bridge.  Further, this bridge is in a busy area and has a lot of traffic. The community would like the bridge to add to the beauty of the local landscape.  Create a blueprint sketch of the bridge that meets the following criteria:

The bridge needs to be:

☐ at least 3 kilometres long

☐ at least 1 kilometre high

☐ strong enough to carry three cars at a time

☐ an eye-pleasing design

☐ scaled proportionate to the intended dimensions of the bridge (include scale ration on blueprint).

Next, prepare a brief sales pitch (2 minutes maximum) to convince your community of the benefits and strengths of your particular design. Write 3-5 jot notes on the back of this sheet.  Once your community has chosen its bridge, share your design with the class!

Submit this, and your blueprint for consideration

Rubric for Individual Bridge Designs

Criteria Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
My design considers the purposes set for the design task. My design considers a few of the purposes set for the design task. My design considers some of the purposes set for the design task. My design considers most of the purposes set for the design task. My design considers all of the purposes set for the design task.
My design shows that I understand the structural components of my chosen bridge type. My design shows that I understand a few of the structural components of my chosen bridge type. My design shows that I understand some of the structural components of my chosen bridge type. My design shows that I understand most of the structural components of my chosen bridge type. My design shows that I understand all of the structural components of my chosen bridge type.
My jot notes demonstrate I understand the strengths and benefits of my design. My jot notes demonstrate I understand  few of the strengths and benefits of my design. My jot notes demonstrate I understand some of the strengths and benefits of my design. My jot notes demonstrate I understand most of the strengths and benefits of my design. My jot notes demonstrate I understand all of the strengths and benefits of my design.
My dimensions are appropriate to the intended size of the bridge. My dimensions are not appropriate to the intended size of the bridge. My dimensions are somewhat appropriate to the intended size of the bridge. My dimensions are appropriate to the intended size of the bridge. My dimensions are exceptionally appropriate to the intended size of the bridge.
My blueprint is clearly labeled, titled and drawn. My blueprint is unclearly labeled, titled and drawn. My blueprint is somewhat clearly labeled, titled and drawn. My blueprint is clearly labeled, titled and drawn. My blueprint is exceptionally clearly labeled, titled and drawn.

Bridge Design Project – Step 2

Budget Problems 

 

The community is ready to build your bridge!  Create a chart to show what materials you will need to buy.

 

Price List

Item                                        Price

Toothpicks                            $50 each

popsicle sticks                      $500 each

straws                                   $500 each

wire                                       $1000 per length

string                                    $500 per length

screws                                   $100 each

nuts                                       $100 each

ball bearings                        $100 each

glue                                       $500 to use

 

 

Our Materials Estimate

 

Item                            Quantity                                 Price

Total Estimated Cost:

Bridge Design Project – Step 3

Construction

It’s been an expensive year, and the community does not have a large budget available for this project.  They have decided that the total budget for the bridge cannot go over $10 000.   If your estimate was over this amount, you must re-design your bridge to meet the budget!  Record the changes on a photocopy of your blueprint, and record below the new materials costs you will have.

 

Original Estimate

 

Revised Design: Our Materials

Item                            Quantity                                 Price

Budget Total:

 

Create a new chart, comparing the two designs and costs.  Build your model.

 

 

 

Sample Final Individual Evaluation Rubric

These criteria represent a sample of the criteria on which students may be graded, and may change based on the criteria students identify as being necessary for the activity.  Students may identify that working collaboratively or trying to resolve conflicts independently as one of the core skills they’d like to be evaluated on.  Further, students may identify additional criteria for a “successful” bridge, which can be included.

Rubric for Group Construction Project

Criteria Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Our final bridge accomplishes the original goals of the task. Our final bridge accomplishes one or fewer of the original goals of the task. Our final bridge accomplishes some of the original goals of the task. Our final bridge accomplishes most of the original goals of the task. Our final bridge accomplishes all of the original goals of the task.
Our bridge demonstrates the strength necessary to support three cars. Our bridge demonstrates the strength necessary to support one or fewer cars. Our bridge demonstrates the strength necessary to support at least two cars. Our bridge demonstrates the strength necessary to support three cars. Our bridge demonstrates the strength necessary to support more than three cars.
Our charts are clear and effectively compare our estimate and our final costs. Our charts compare with little clarity our estimate and our final cost. Our charts compare with some clarity our estimate and our final cost. Our charts compare with clarity our estimate and our final cost. Our charts compare with a great deal of clarity our estimate and our final cost.
Our group worked together to solve problems that came up in the project. Our group infrequently worked together to solve problems that came up in the project. Our group sometimes worked together to solve problems that came up in the project. Our group usually worked together to solve problems that came up in the project. Our group always worked together to solve problems that came up in the project.

One thought on “Open Task – Grade 5 or 7 Science: Building Structures

  1. This culminating task highlights my drive toward building independent learners and creative thinkers through experimentation. By asking students to design, and then redesign within limitations, it forces them to think critically and creatively in a real world application. Further, it spans enough time to let them reflect and improve their work, while “tinkering” with the structure. It is more focussed on process than product, but integrates both.

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