Engineering Design in the NGSS TDS

Engineering Design in the
Next Generation Science Standards
Using a Picture Book and Online Tools to Teach Kids (and adults) about Engineering Design
Original activities created
and assembled by:
Kirk Robbins &
Tom Hathorn
Table of Contents
Overview of Engineering Design and Those Darn Squirrels Guide (PD
or K-5 activities
PD page for identifying Engineering Design components in
Those Darn Squirrels
PD page or student page for identifying Constraints & Criteria
Images of bird-houses for an optimizing activity
Worksheets to guide Engineering Design of Marshmallow Challenge
PD pages as a variation on the Marshmallow Challenge- Participants
start with a vague challenge and must ask questions to clarify criteria
and constraints. During the challenge, some participants act as
“anthropologists” and observe the engineers for evidence of a variety of
engineering “look fors”.
The purpose of this guide is to assist a teacher, lecturer, or professional development provider in designing a
learning experience on Engineering Design.
a. Learners will be able to understand and recognize the components of Engineering Design
 The Engineering Design Process
o Define Problems
o Develop Solutions
o Optimize Solutions
b. Learners will also be able to describe constraints and criteria in order to define the problem in an
Engineering Task.
Next Generation Science Standards by Grade Band:
Grades K-2
K-2-ETS1-1 Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to
change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or
K-2-ETS1-2 Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps
it function as needed to solve a given problem.
K-2 ETS1-3 Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the
strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Grades 3-5
3-5 ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for
success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
3-5 ETS1-2 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.
3-5 ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to
identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Pre-Reading (Launching Engineering Design)
1. Today we are going to learn about engineering.
 Does anyone know what an engineer is?
 What do you think engineers do?
2. Watch What is Engineering? Video
Ask each team:
1. What do engineers do? (Solve problems!)
2. What steps do you think engineers use to solve problems?(Have table groups brainstorm)
3. Present the Engineering Design Process from the Next Generation Science Standards Appendix I
 Define the Problem
 Develop Solutions
 Optimize Solutions
 What do you notice about the arrows on this
poster? (Arrows go both ways)
4. Get ready to read the story:
 “So, we have a systematic process for solving
problems…this is how engineers do their work, but it’s
powerful way for you & me to approach problems, too. Figure 1 Engineering Design from NGSS
problem do you think the man in this story is going to
 Allow students to share a few ideas, but don’t verify.
 Read the story; consider using some of the questions during the first reading, especially if you’d like
students to predict what’s coming next (and why they think that).
1. Select & use some of the questions listed later in this guide.
2. Use “Another Question” later in this guide, to compare how Fookwire and the squirrels used the 3
components of Engineering Design.
3. Check out the online videos to generate additional thinking and conversation about the problem-solving /
design process.
4. Use the Those Darn Squirrels Worksheet to allow students to identify criteria and constraints on p. __ of the
5. Conduct the Marshmallow Challenge as an extension to the story. See Marshmallow Challenge sheets on
p.___ of this guide
Literacy Connections
 (TBA)
About Scientific Problem-Solving —Questions to Use with the Story:
In the text & pictures…
A) Pg.14—Fookwire’s new birdhouse design. [Do you think it will work? Why / why not?]
B) Pg.18-19—Fookwire’s third version. [Wow, that’s a complicated system!...What is each part supposed to
do? Why do you think this might solve Fookwire’s problem?]
C) Pg.20-21—Squirrels engaged in problem-solving. [The squirrels didn’t give up, just like Mr. Fookwire.
What parts of the Problem-Solving Process are they using? Do you think their plan will work?]
D) Pg.26-27—The squirrels are focusing on a new problem.
problem do you think the squirrels are working on now?]
E) Pg.29—Fookwire at the door. [What do you think Old Man Fookwire sees? Why do you think that?]
Another Question:
 Compare Old Man Fookwire’s problem-solving
approach to the squirrels’ problem-solving approach.
[Which parts of the process did they both use? What is
different about them?]
Online Resources  Engineering for The Real
 (video) What is engineering? 
 (video 2min.) Birds (many!) visiting a backyard birdhouse 
 (video 1min.) Industrial Design Process: Which parts of the process can you identify in this video? 
 (video 6min.) Toy Design & Testing Class @ MIT 
 (video 2 minutes) Squirrel Obstacle Course: an actual squirrel traversing an obstacle course to get to
food.. fuzzy little geniuses!
Those Darn Squirrels (Teacher PD)
Identify places in the story where Mr. Fookwire or the squirrels engage
in one of the three components of Engineering Design.
A. Defining and delimiting engineering problems involves stating the problem to be solved as clearly as possible
in terms of criteria for success (goals), and constraints (limits).
B. Designing solutions to engineering problems begins with generating a number of different possible solutions,
then evaluating potential solutions to see which ones best meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Optimizing the design solution involves a process in which solutions are systematically tested and refined and
the final design is improved by trading off less important features for those that are more important.
Use the image from the
book Those Darn
Squirrels to think about
Engineering Design
Define the problem the squirrels are attempting to solve:
Identify constraints (limits):
Identify criteria for success (goals):
Develop some other solutions than the one pictured above:
We know that this solution did not solve the problem. What might the squirrels do to optimize their solution?
Birdhouse Images for use in an Optimizing the Solution Task…
Marshmallow Challenge
A. Define the Problem
Create the tallest free-standing structure using 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 meter of
tape, 1 meter of string, and 1 marshmallow. The marshmallow MUST BE on top of the
Things that limit your
20 pieces of dry spaghetti
1 meter of tape
1 meter of string
1 marshmallow
18 minutes
Stable structure
Free standing
As tall as possible
Marshmallow mush be on top of structure
The Goals for your
B. Develop Solutions
Explore Ideas
All Group Members
Plan Summary
Which idea above did you
pick? Write a sentence
describing what you will do.
Steps to Do the Plan:
Describe the steps of
your plan
Diagram of Solution
Create a labeled diagram of your plan in the space below
C. Optimize the Solution
How will you know if your plan worked?
Describe how you will test your plan/solution below.
Trade Offs
What might you trade off in order to improve success on one of the criteria?
Troubleshoot and Redesign
Improve on your original (troubleshoot, or fix the design problems)
Considering Constraints and Criteria
Build a free-standing structure that supports one marshmallow
If you were given the above request, what questions would you have?
Questions about Constraints (limits):
Questions about Criteria (goals):
Those Darn Squirrels
by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Teaching Engineering Design
Marshmallow Challenge (Engineer Page)
Role: For the next 18 minutes you will be engaged in designing a solution to the Marshmallow
Problem: Design the tallest free-standing structure that will support a marshmallow using only 20
pieces of dry spaghetti, 1 meter of tape, 1 meter of string, and 1 marshmallow.
You have a pair of scissors to be used as a tool.
You may use the space below to capture any evidence of your Engineering Design process:
Those Darn Squirrels
by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Teaching Engineering Design
Marshmallow Challenge (Anthropologist Pages)
Role: for the next 18 minutes you will observe the engineers and gather evidence of their use of the
Engineering Design process.
Pick 1 of the next 3 pages to guide and organize your observations about a component of design.
A. Develop Solutions
Brainstorm/explore multiple
Apply scientific ideas to solve
design problems
Use systematic methods to
compare different solutions to see
which best meet criteria and
Creates a legible plan, model,
diagram, description of solution
Those Darn Squirrels
by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Teaching Engineering Design
B. Optimize Solutions
Test solutions
Make observations and/or
measurements to produce data to
test a design solution
Revise solutions
Test two different models of the
same proposed object, tool, or
process to determine which better
meets criteria for success
Make a claim about the merit of a
solution to a problem by citing
relevant evidence about how it
meets the criteria and constraints of
the problem
Can redefine the problem or
generate new solutions to replace
an idea that just isn’t working out
Arrives at an optimal design
Those Darn Squirrels
by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Teaching Engineering Design
C. Other Skills and Practices
Collaborates effectively during
Engineering Design process
Obtain and combine information
from books and/or other reliable
media to explain phenomena or
solutions to a design problem
Communicate scientific and/or
technical information orally and/or
in written formats, including various
forms of media as well as tables,
diagrams, and charts.
Displays stamina in revising
solutions several times