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# Engaging Children in Engineering Design Through the World of Quadcopters: Lesson Materials

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## Abstract

Time: Five hours Lesson Overview/Purpose: Students will engage in an engineering challenge to design a " release-mechanism " for a quadcopter enabling it to deliver supplies to a remote village with difficult access. This will require students to learn the basic principles of flight, practice flying a quadcopter, and research the geological and climate features of the region in which the remote village is located. Core Content Standards: • Standards for Technological Literacy 9: Students will develop an understanding of engineering design. o Benchmark C-The engineering design process involves defining a problem, generating ideas, selecting a solution, testing the solution(s), making the item, evaluating it, and presenting the results. o Benchmark D – When designing an object, it is important to be creative and consider all ideas. o Benchmark E – Models are used to communicate and test design ideas and processes. Global or Local Issue: Transportation of goods and supplies to remote mountain regions can be extremely difficult. Medical supplies—a highly valuable and important necessity for local inhabitants—are not quickly deliverable using current transportation systems. The development of a new method for delivering much-needed supplies through would greatly benefit a large number of people living in remote regions. STEM Standards: • Science o NGSS 3-5 ETS 1-1 Engineering Design: Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost. o NGSS – 3-5 ETS 1-2 Engineering Design: Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. o NGSS – 3 PS2 2 Motion & Stability: Forces & Interactions: Make observations and/or measurements of an object's motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion. o NGSS – 3 ESS2-1 Earth's Systems: Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather conditions expected during a particular season. o NGSS – 3-ESS2-2 Earth's Systems: Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world. • ELA/Literacy o Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers. o Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic. o Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. • Mathematical Practices o Reason abstractly and quantitatively; Model with mathematics; Use appropriate tools strategically. Student Outcomes: (1) Students will design, develop, test, revise, and present a solution to the proposed challenge employing the practices of engineering design. (2) Students will evaluate their solutions following the challenge criteria and constraints. (3) Students will explain the forces of lift and thrust to predict the movement of their quadcopter. (4) Students will conduct a short research project to understand the climate of the region in which their quadcopter is to be deployed and how that will impact the flight of their vehicle. Enduring Understandings: • The engineering design process involves defining a problem, generating ideas, selecting a solution, testing the solution(s), making the item, evaluating it, and presenting the result (Engineering/Technology). • Potential for quadcopters, and similar technologies, to revolutionize transportation (Engineering/Technology) • Mathematical practices are important to design solutions to problems and carrying out investigations (Math) • The importance of investigating geological features and climates when designing solutions to problems (Science)
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FEATURE ARTICLE
May 2017 children’s technology and engineering 1 back to contents
Engaging Children in Engineering Design Through the World of Quadcopter
Lesson Materials
Table 1
Engineering Design-Based Lesson Overview
Lesson Title – Engineering Design through Mini-Quadcopters
Time: Five hours
Lesson Overview/Purpose: Students will engage in an engineering challenge to design a “release-mechanism” for a
quadcopter enabling it to deliver supplies to a remote village with diicult access. This will require students to learn the basic
principles of flight, practice flying a quadcopter, and research the geological and climate features of the region in which the
remote village is located.
Core Content Standards:
Standards for Technological Literacy 9: Students will develop an understanding of engineering design.
o Benchmark C - The engineering design process involves defining a problem, generating ideas, selecting a solution,
testing the solution(s), making the item, evaluating it, and presenting the results.
o Benchmark D – When designing an object, it is important to be creative and consider all ideas.
o Benchmark E – Models are used to communicate and test design ideas and processes.
Global or Local Issue: Transportation of goods and supplies to remote mountain regions can be extremely diicult. Medical
supplies—a highly valuable and important necessity for local inhabitants—are not quickly deliverable using current transpor-
tation systems. The development of a new method for delivering much-needed supplies through would greatly benefit a large
number of people living in remote regions.
STEM Standards:
• Science
o NGSS 3-5 ETS 1-1 Engineering Design: Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes
specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
o NGSS – 3-5 ETS 1-2 Engineering Design: Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on
how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
o NGSS – 3 PS2 2 Motion & Stability: Forces & Interactions: Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s
motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
o NGSS – 3 ESS2-1 Earth’s Systems: Represent data in tables and graphical displays to describe typical weather
conditions expected during a particular season.
o NGSS – 3-ESS2-2 Earth’s Systems: Obtain and combine information to describe climates in dierent regions of the
world.
• ELA/Literacy
o Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the
answers.
o Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
o Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Mathematical Practices
o Reason abstractly and quantitatively; Model with mathematics; Use appropriate tools strategically.
Student Outcomes: (1) Students will design, develop, test, revise, and present a solution to the proposed challenge employ-
ing the practices of engineering design. (2) Students will evaluate their solutions following the challenge criteria and con-
straints. (3) Students will explain the forces of lift and thrust to predict the movement of their quadcopter. (4) Students will
conduct a short research project to understand the climate of the region in which their quadcopter is to be deployed and how
that will impact the flight of their vehicle.
Enduring Understandings:
The engineering design process involves defining a problem, generating ideas, selecting a solution, testing the
solution(s), making the item, evaluating it, and presenting the result (Engineering/Technology).
Potential for quadcopters, and similar technologies, to revolutionize transportation (Engineering/Technology)
Mathematical practices are important to design solutions to problems and carrying out investigations (Math)
The importance of investigating geological features and climates when designing solutions to problems (Science)
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FEATURE ARTICLE
2 children’s technology and engineering May 2017
Table 2
Engineering Design-Based Lesson Plan
Lesson Title – Engineering Design through Mini-Quadcopters
Engage: Sets the context
for what the
students will be learning
in the lesson, as well as
gaining their interest in the
topic.
1 Hour
Begin class by flying the mini-quadcopter around the room.
Place students in groups and allow them to practice flying the mini-quadcopters.
Helpful Resources:
Flying Tutorial - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0JFs1gMeMU
How a quadcopter works - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_T6LBwuBKY
How to operate a Hubsan X4 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6Fi-g_8x8k
Hang three hula hoops from the ceiling at dierent heights using fishing line – students
practice flying through the hoops
Challenge the class to see which pilot can maneuver through all the hoops the fastest.
Introduce the class to the mini-quadcopter engineering design challenge (see Table 4) that
involves delivering supplies to remote villages. (Present the design brief to the class to set
the context for the rest of the lesson.
Explore: Enables students
to build their own knowl-
edge on the topic while
making connection to their
prior conceptual and pro-
cedural knowledge.
1 Hour
Show this YouTube video that talks about needed medical supplies in remote areas
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw5wsxGR6Wo)
Discuss the needs/challenges of communities in remote areas
(Climate and Geographic Features)
Watch this video about Amazon Prime Air Delivery Drones:
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98BIu9dpwHU)
Discuss with the class the possibilities of using Quadcopters for delivery of supplies
o Students should conduct a small research project to understand the climate and geo-
graphic features of dierent remote villages to predict how these factors will impact
quadcopter flight.
o Students will present information to the class.
Demonstrate how a quadcopter works using the Hubsan X4 while explaining the forces of
lift and thrust to predict the movement of their quadcopter.
o Helpful Resources:
Flying Tutorial - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0JFs1gMeMU
How a quadcopter works - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_T6LBwuBKY
How to operate a Hubsan X4 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6Fi-g_8x8k
Driving Question: What possibilities are there for using emerging technologies to deliver much-needed medical supplies to
remote areas?
Career Connections:
Mechanical Engineer
Aerospace Engineer
• Physicist
Commercial/Military Aviation UAS operator
Geographic Information Systems Oicer
Aerial Photographer/videographer
• Meteorologist
Air traic controller
Supplies:
10 Hubsan X4 Mini quadcopters
40 AAA Batteries (4 per remote)
3 Hula hoops
10’ fishing line
1 empty matchbox (mini-size) for each group
[represents the medical supplies to be delivered by
the mini-quadcopter]
1 model for testing the delivery (see attached description)
Bag of supplies for building
(1 per group)
o 1 roll of tape
o 5 pipe cleaners
o 5 rubber bands
o 5 toothpicks
o 5 paper clips
o 3 pieces of paper
o 1 piece of cardboard 3’ of
fishing line
o 1 3”x5” card
o 1 block of clay
o 2 pennies
o 4 flexible straws
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Explain: Summarizes new
and prior knowledge while
addressing any miscon-
ceptions the students may
hold.
1 Hour
Lead a discussion with the class to review how a quadcopter achieves flight.
o Answer questions students may have related to mini-quadcopters, how they work, etc.
o Address any misconceptions.
Discuss the engineering design challenge using the design brief.
o Clarify student understanding of the challenges related to medical supplies in remote
areas.
o Explain the concept of engineering design which consists of defining a problem, con-
ducting research, generating design ideas, making prototypes or models, evaluating
designs, and improving designs.
o Walk the class through defining the problem and identifying the criteria and con-
straints provided in the design brief.
o Explain the importance of sketching design ideas and documenting all their design
work.
o Discuss the importance of teamwork in engineering.
o Place students in groups and provide each group with a bag of supplies for use in the
challenge.
Engineer: Requires
students to apply their
knowledge and skills using
the engineering design
process to identify a
problem and to develop a
solution.
1 Hour
Place the model remote village in a central area for students to test, modify, and pilot their
designs for delivering the “medical supplies” (empty mini-matchbox) to the remote village
on the class model.
Provide each group with an empty matchbox (representing the supplies to be delivered) for
use in testing their designs.
Students will work in groups to design, build, test, modify, and pilot their solution to the
engineering design challenge.
Students will begin the brainstorming process related to the engineering design challenge
and work to develop a design of a resolution to the design brief.
Students will use the materials provided to create a prototype of their solution.
Students will continue to test, modify and pilot their designs using the model remote vil-
lage.
Evaluate: Allows a student
to evaluate her or his own
learning and skill develop-
ment in a manner that en-
ables taking the necessary
steps to master the lesson
content and concepts.
Each group will conduct one final test or demonstration of its design to the entire class.
Each group will communicate results to the entire class by explaining their designs, their
processes for developing the design, why their model worked or why it didn’t work, how
they would improve their designs if they were to do the challenge again, and what did they
learn through the whole process.
These activities will enable students to evaluate their own success and receive peer feed-
back as well as provide the means for the teacher to evaluate the students’ design process,
output solution, and attainment of the learning objectives.
Require students to document their work and design sketches using an engineering note-
book.
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FEATURE ARTICLE
4 children’s technology and engineering May 2017
Table 3
Model Remote Village Plan
Making the Remote Village Model
Instructions: Teachers can consider constructing a “model remote village” for use in the engineering design challenge. This
will be used by students to test their designs. The construction of this model could be simple or extremely detailed—Teachers
could simply clear o a desk and designate the area on top of the desk as “the landing area in the remote village,” or teachers
could use foam, wood, or plastic to build a small model-village for use in testing.
The following links may prove helpful for teachers as they consider how they want to facilitate student testing of designs:
How to make small houses from paper
o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4qEDupt7YE
Foam core houses
o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssxCQuv3KzE
An example drawing is included here, which may serve useful for teachers as they consider designing and constructing a
model village for their students.
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Table 4
Engineering Design Challenge
Mini-Quadcopter Design Challenge: Delivering supplies to remote villages
Description: You and your design team have been hired to help devise a solution for
delivering much-needed medical supplies to remote villages. Your team has been
asked to develop a mechanism for transporting and delivering supplies to remote
villages using quadcopters.
Supplies: Each group will receive identical mini-quadcopters (Hubsan X-4) and remote controls. Additionally, you will receive
one small empty matchbox—this will represent the medical supplies and should be transported by your quadcopter to the
remote village. The following supplies, for use in the mechanism design and build, will be included in your supply bag:
1 roll of tape
5 pipe cleaners
5 rubber bands
5 toothpicks
5 paper clips
3 pieces of paper
1 piece of cardboard
1 block of clay
1 3”x5” card
2 pennies
4 flexible straws
3’ of fishing line
Criteria and Constraints:
In order to successfully complete the design challenge the following criteria and constraints must be met:
Final design must be able to securely lift, transport, and release the medical supplies (represented by the empty match-
box)
Final design must be constructed using only the provided supplies
The mini-quadcopter should be able to fly from one end of the classroom, drop o the supplies, and return to the original
starting point using only one battery
Students may do the initial attachment of the medical supplies but the quadcopter must fly and drop o supplies without
student interaction
references
Grubbs, M. & Strimel, G. (2015). Engineering design: The great
integrator. Journal of STEM Teacher Education, 50(1), 77-
90.
International Technology Education Association (ITEA/ITEEA).
(2000/2002/2007). Standards for technological literacy:
Content for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author.
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices &
Council of Chief State School Oicers. (2010). Common
Core State Standards. Washington, DC: Authors.
NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards:
For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Acad-
emies Press.
Greg J. Strimel, Ph.D., is an assistant
professor of Engineering/Technology Teacher
Education in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute
at Purdue University. He can be reached at
gstrimel@purdue.edu.
Scott R. Bartholomew, Ph.D., is an as-
sistant professor of Engineering/Technology
Teacher Education in the Purdue Polytechnic
Institute at Purdue University. He can be
reached at sbartho@purdue.edu.
Eunhye Kim is a Ph.D. student and gradu-
ate research assistant in the Purdue Poly-
technic Institute at Purdue University. She
can be reached at kim1906@purdue.edu.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Article
There is much support in the research literature and in the standards for the integration of engineering into science education, particularly the problem solving approach of engineering design. Engineering design is most often represented through design-based learning. However, teachers often do not have a clear definition of engineering design, appropriate models for teaching students, or the knowledge and experience to develop integrative learning activities. The purpose of this article is to examine definitions of engineering design and how it can be utilized to create a transdisciplinary approach to education to advance all students' general STEM literacy skills and 21st century cognitive competencies. Suggestions for educators who incorporate engineering design into their instruction will also be presented.
Next generation science standards: For states, by states
NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Standards for technological literacy: Content for the study of technology
• M Grubbs
• G Strimel
Grubbs, M. & Strimel, G. (2015). Engineering design: The great integrator. Journal of STEM Teacher Education, 50(1), 77-90. International Technology Education Association (ITEA/ITEEA). (2000/2002/2007). Standards for technological literacy: Content for the study of technology. Reston, VA: Author. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards. Washington, DC: Authors.
is an assistant professor of Engineering/Technology Teacher Education in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University
• Greg J Strimel
Greg J. Strimel, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Engineering/Technology Teacher Education in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University. He can be reached at gstrimel@purdue.edu.