Learniture - A 7th Grade PBL Science Idea for Structures & Forces

Project Based Learning, Project-Based Learning, PBL

Another project idea from a team of teachers in Camrose, Alberta!

Title: Learniture

Grade: 7

Type of Project: Design Challenge

Context: You are tired of the used up 60s furniture that your parents have given you for your room. You will design and construct an original, stable, utilitarian and esthetically pleasing piece of furniture from up-cycled materials to use in your room.

Learning Outcomes: Science - Structures & Forces.

(1) Describe and interpret different types of structures encountered in everyday objects, buildings, plants and animals; and identify materials from which they are made.

(2) Investigate and analyze forces within structures, and forces applied to them.

(3) Investigate and analyze the properties of materials used in structures.

(4) Demonstrate and describe processes used in developing, evaluating and improving structures that will meet human needs with a margin of safety.

Driving Question: How can you, as a budding furniture designer, design and build a usable piece of furniture for your room?

Tangible Outcomes:

Team: Finished Furniture & Presentation on Process and Planning. Students will describe the function and structural elements of their piece of furniture.

Individual: Analysis of forces and types of structures. Students will explain why they selected the materials used. Students will investigate, analyze and share how their structure and materials would respond to applied forces.

Adult World Involvement: Use of blueprints, graphic design software, visiting architects and designers.

Teacher Reflections from Sabrina Heydorn:

I was very satisfied with the results of the learning. They were all able to explain their structures and as to why they constructed them in different ways, as well as the adjustments that they had to make as we went through the course of the unit. I wish I would have had time to test the structures and go back to our design plan to change them even more - that would probably be my next step next year. As for the posters, we were pretty crunched for time with exams and all, so I just told them what to include in their presentation. I had one group make a slideshow of their process which was really cool!

Biggest highlight: the learning process and their work duo-tangs as we continued in the unit. They were able to take their structure and original design and adapt it as we learned more.

Biggest challenge: getting participation from ALL students to make the final product. I had maybe 3 of the 28 students (still a very good ratio) who did not either want to make something in the end, or who put minimal effort in with their partner. Thankfully they were all assessed individually, and they were also able to give input on their partner’s contribution to the project.

Feel free to touch base with Sabrina and/or Sheldon for more information! &

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