15-Minute Tower Build
Teacher Toolbox - The Purpose of this Section
The goal of the Play section is to allow students to test the build and help them explore the stability of structures. Set up this activity with students and make sure they understand that this is the first version of their tower before moving on to round two.
Teacher Toolbox - Students' Roles
Organize the students into groups before beginning the exploration. Students can be organized into groups of two to four students when participating in the exploration. The following roles can be utilized during the exploration:
Designer - This person will organize and sketch ideas for the structure. This person leads the conversation to arrive at final decisions.
Recorder - This person records the decided design plan in the engineering notebook and documents changes and reasons for change.
Builder A - This person works with Builder B to construct the tower based on the recorded plan in the engineering notebook.
Builder B - This person works with Builder A to construct the tower based on the recorded plan in the engineering notebook.
If there are two students in each group, the students can each choose two roles. If there are three students in a group, one of the students can choose to do two roles or the group may only have one Builder. If there are four students in a group, each student can have one role.
Provide the list of roles and their definitions to the students. Once students are in their groups, allow the members to choose their role. Circulate the classroom and makes sure that every student has a role. There is an optional collaboration rubric on here.
Remind the students of roles throughout the exploration. All students can voice ideas, but the Designer will mediate compromises.
To evaluate engineering notebooks, there are two options for either individual or team engineering notebooks. Review the expectations of the engineering notebook as a whole class before students begin building their towers in pairs or small groups. Have the expectations for the engineering notebook printed or available on an LMS platform for the students to reference throughout the activity. Once the guidelines of the engineering notebook have been reviewed, instruct students to begin building the first design of their towers.
Building the Tallest Tower
Build the tallest tower that you can in 15 minutes. It will be the first version of your tower.
Reflecting on the Design of Your Tower
Now that you have built the initial version of your tower, take a step back and reflect on your design. Consider all of the parts of your tower's design and how they work together.
Writing in your Engineering Notebook
The Recorder will document the progress of the design in the engineering notebook. Take a moment to write the following in the engineering notebook:
The name of your project (for example, "Tallest Tower")
Names of everyone who worked on the project (you, teammates, etc)
A one or two line description of what you built
Two or three things you like about your design
Two or three things that you don't like about your design
Two or three things you would improve on your design if you had more time
Extend Your Learning - If Finished Early
Some teams may finish their towers and engineering notebook reflections faster than others. Encourage students who finish early to help other students who may be helped by the collaboration. Instruct students who are helping other students to discuss what they have put in their engineering notebook for this activity. This will foster critical thinking skills and give students practice in sharing ideas, while giving you time to continue helping students who are still working on building the first design of their towers.