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Improve and Tinker with Your Build

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - The Purpose of this Page

This page will allow students to think about how they would improve the build. Students should be allowed time to independently answer these questions in their engineering notebook, or to discuss how to answer them with their groups and have the Recorder document responses for the group.
Another option would be to use these questions as a summative assessment such as a homework assignment or a formative assessment by facilitating an in-class discussion and having the students reflect on the questions in their engineering notebook.

There are optional rubrics for individual or team engineering notebooks and an optional rubric here to measure collaboration.

Now that you have completed the Tower Strength Challenge, answer the following questions in your engineering notebook. If you are working in groups, have the Recorder document your group's answers.

  1. What part of the tower seemed to be the strongest during the challenge? What part failed or seemed weak? Why do you think those parts were strong/weak?

  2. Now that you have considered the tower's strengths and weaknesses, rebuild and improve the tower so that it would perform better if you were to repeat the Tower Strength Challenge. What steps will you follow to change the build? Explain with details and/or sketches.

  3. Run the Tower Challenge again with the new build. Did your changes make the build more structurally sound? Explain the results.

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - Answers

  1. Students should be able to identify which parts of their tower build were strong, and which parts failed during or were weak during the challenge. They should also be able to communicate why each of those parts were strong or weak by using text or drawings in their engineering notebook.

  2. Students' changes can be as creative as is appropriate. Students can be allowed to work in their groups to iterate on their tower's design if time permits. Roles for this portion of the activity could be the same as from the Play section: Designer, Recorder, Builder A, and Builder B. Changes to the build can be made with parts included in the VEX Super Kit, such as different sized beams or connectors. The Recorder should document changes in text or drawings and all team members should be able to explain how and why they chose to make those changes.

  3. If time permits, groups could be given time to run the Tower Strength Challenge again with their improved builds and the group roles from this Rethink section: Builder, Tester, and Recorder. To highlight the iterative design process, students can reflect on the effects those changes had on the stability of the tower. Students should be able to explain why their changes made the tower better or worse.