Choose a real-world problem in the STEM fields, and design a possible solution.
- Essential Question: How can an engineer design a solution to a local, regional or global problem that benefits industry and society?
- Area(s) of Study: Engineering
- Amount of credit earned: One credit
- Community Partners: Could be manufacturing and engineering firms, college faculty, local businesses, program teachers, or student parents. Any of these people might be content experts depending on the project.
- Creating a written project proposal – justify the selection of a project problem
- Research and analysis – selecting the best solution
- Design process – apply the methodologies and engineering disciplines associated with the engineering design process
- Prototyping a solution – test and evaluate
- Redesign and refine – peer review
- Project presentation and evaluation
See the detailed ELO description for the full text of these competencies.
This is a general list of activities, applicable to any engineering design challenge. The students in the sidebar examples chose to work on increasing the interest and skills of elementary students in robotics and STEM.
- Research relevant principles and practices of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
- Choose a problem, quantify why it is a problem, and who in fact says this is a problem worth solving with research, surveys and stakeholders to justify the need for a solution to the problem.
- Determine prior solution attempts to resolve the problem. Research patents, prior art, etc.
- Develop the criteria and design constraints for the problem based on real need, cost, time required, knowledge required, and mentor/advisors required and available.
- Construct a written project proposal for your solution, including a Gantt chart timeline and proposed prototype build, including a bill of materials.
- Design, build, test and evaluate a prototype of the solution. Develop repeatable and reproducible testing methods and document results. Refine design as testing indicates based on original problem criteria and design constraints.
- Reflect and document the design process to date and create recommendations for possible next steps.
- Share the testing results and conclusions about the effectiveness of this solution and testing plan with stakeholders and experts related to this project and problem. Gather feedback from stakeholders and experts related to your conclusion and testing analysis.
- Gather data and information compiled throughout the project and create a project portfolio and presentation of the design solution.
The final assessment is done via a presentation night to mentors/advisers and manufacturers. The student presents a summary of their design process and an effective technical presentation on the chosen design solution to a group of experts for review. This will include a portfolio summary of the design process utilized. The student defends all decisions made related to the design process utilized.
Parents and mentors complete an assessment rubric that is also used in the final grade component along with the teacher grade of the student’s final documentation package.
This is a yearlong commitment, and teachers need to assume the role of an advisor only, allowing students the freedom to determine the project while adhering to the design process. Advising includes monitoring all mentor/student interactions, keeping them on track via a timeline, and making sure the design criteria and solution requirements are maintained throughout the project. Failure is absolutely okay, as long as the students can explain the failure and what could or should be done to get a more favorable outcome. Documentation of the entire process is a must. A presentation of the outcome is also required in front of stakeholders, mentors, advisors, college faculty, peers and parents.
This ELO was submitted by Ernie Biron, Engineering Instructor and VEX Robotics Advisor at Pinkerton Academy. Email Ernie for more information