Teaching Engineering with Picture Books



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Lesson Created by Kirk Robbins

Teaching Engineering with Picture Books




Grade 3: Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Engineering Design: Defining Problems, Developing Solutions, & Optimizing Solutions


Overview of Lesson and Text

This picture book and lesson is intended to provide students with some foundational ideas about engineering and collaboration. Students will use the literacy skills they are learning in CCSS ELA (using text-based evidence, identifying theme, speaking and listening) to comprehend the text. In the book, Mr. Fookwire and the squirrels identify several problems and then develop solutions to those problems. There are also examples of Mr. Fookwire and the squirrels optimizing their solutions. These steps are the essence of engineering design in the Next Generation Science Standards.

3 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, and constraints or 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.

C. 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.


This book also connects with ideas in Grade 3 Bridges in Mathematics Unit 8 on Bridge Design and Construction


Long-Term Targets Addressed (CCSS and NGSS)

I can answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text. (RL. 3.1)

I can determine the central lesson or message of a story. (RL. 3.2)

I can describe characters in a story by using traits, motivations, and feelings to explain their actions. (RL. 3.3)

I can engage effectively in a collaborative discussion. (SL.4.1)



Supporting Learning Targets

Ongoing Assessment

  • I can use details and examples from Those Darn Squirrels to explain what engineers do.

  • I can work with others to solve engineering problems.

  • I can persevere when things get hard.



Agenda

Teaching Notes

  1. Engage
  1. What do engineers do? (15 minutes)


  1. Explore

  1. Interactive Read Aloud of Those Darn Squirrels (20 minutes)

  2. Looking closer at the text using Text Dependent Questions (20 minutes)

  3. Examining the Engineering Design Process (20 minutes)

  1. Explain (Closing and Assessment)

    A. Is Mr. Fookwire an Engineer? (10 minutes)

  1. Extend (0ptional)

    1. Conduct an engineering design challenge

    2. Paired Reading- Informational Text

    NOTE: In this module, students will revisit their understanding of what engineers do and begin to dig into the critical concept of “grit” in doing engineering. A key question here is- “What do we do when an idea doesn’t seem to work?” Do we quit? Or do we stick with it and more importantly learn something from the failure. In engineering when we are solving problems we identify FAILURE POINTS and we need to be on the lookout for these FAILURE POINTS as an opportunity and not as a reason to quit.

  • In the opening (Engage) students will uncover their current understanding of what engineers do. This is important for comprehending the story and wrestling with the themes of the text. Students will also watch a short video on engineering.

  • The interactive read aloud is an excellent opportunity for students to engage in Speaking and Listening skills






Lesson Vocabulary

Materials


Engineer, cleverest, geniuses, devised, plan, stockpile,


  • Those Darn Squirrels Book

  • What Do Engineers Do? Probe

  • What is Engineering? Video

  • Engineering Design Process page

  • Chart paper

  • Markers

  • Supplemental documents: Question sheet and Vocab Sheet


Engage

Meeting Students’ Needs

A. What do Engineers Do? (10 minutes)


  • Tell students: “Today, we are going to learn how to be better engineers. Turn and Talk with a partner- What do you think engineers do?”

  • Have a few students share with the whole group. (Be on the lookout for partial ideas about what engineers do such as “They make things, fix things, repair things, work on cars, etc ) Do NOT correct these ideas at this point.

  • Show students the What do Engineers Do? Probe. Give students the probe to answer individually. (2 minutes)

  • Tell students: “Now we are going to watch a video about what engineers do. Look for evidence in the video that supports an answer on the What do Engineers Do? Sheet. Watch the video What is Engineering?

  • Ask students: “What do engineers do?” (Solve Problems!)
  • Today we are going to read a story about an old man and some squirrels. I want you to be thinking about whether she is solving any problems and working like an engineer. Share the learning targets.


  • ELLs may be unfamiliar with more vocabulary words than are mentioned in this lesson.

  • Check for comprehension of general words (e.g., law, peace, etc.) that most students would know.



Explore

Meeting Students’ Needs

    1. Interactive Read Aloud

FIRST READ

  • Show the cover of Those Darn Squirrels and read the title.

  • Read the text aloud without much commentary or questioning. This first read is a scaffold to help students access the text.

    • We learned that engineers solve problems. Is Mr. Fookwire an engineer? Use detail from the text to support your answers.

    • Invite students to Think-Pair-Share, encouraging them to go back into the text and find the relevant details and/or the answer.

  • Cold call on a couple of pairs to share their thinking. Be prepared to contain the sharing to the text and the video.

  • Make public notes on an anchor chart “Is Mr. Fookwire an Engineer?” You may want to make a t-chart for evidence that supports the claim that “Yes, he is an engineer” and “No, he is not an engineer”

  • Tell students that we are going to look closer at the text and then we will return to this question later.

  • The first read is to help students identify the gist of the story

  • Reading aloud to students who cannot access the text independently helps them reach the target.
  • For students needing additional support and ELLs, consider providing smaller chunks of text, sometimes just a few sentences for a close read. Teachers can check in on students’ thinking as they speak about their text.


  • Invite students to Think-Pair-Share, encouraging them to go back into the text and find the relevant details and/or the answer.




Explore (continued)

Meeting Students’ Needs

B. Looking closer at the text using Text Dependent Questions

  • Reread the page 8 where Fookwire first has the idea to build the birdfeeders. From “When the air turned crisp…” to “Maybe they would stick around…”

  • Ask students for a thumbs-up if they think they can tell something about what they read. Praise the thumbs-up and say: “Tell your neighbor what you think this page is mostly about.”

  • Cold call on a couple of students to share what they think is happening on this page. You may need to keep them focused on the text and the illustration as evidence. You may also ask the question, “What is the problem here?” and/or “What is Old Man Fookwire’s idea for solving the problem?”

  • Then reread p. 12 when the squirrels first take the feed from the birdfeeders.

  • “What is the squirrels’ problem on this page?” “How do the squirrels solve the problem?”

  • Reread p. 14 where Fookwire hangs the feeders from the clothesline. “Why does Mr. Fookwire do this?”

  • Reread p. 15 where the squirrels take the feed from the feeders. “How does the illustrator help the reader understand the plan that the squirrels “devised”?”
  • Reread p. 24-25. “How does Old Man Fookwire feel about the squirrels? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.”


  • Reread p. 26-27. Model for students how readers wonder to themselves about places where they are confused. Show students how you keep reading or back up and reread to fix your confusion. (This part might be confusing because suddenly the squirrels want to help Fookwire after competing with him.) Help students understand what is happening here.

  • For example, ask: “I’m confused about something. How do the squirrels feel about Old Man Fookwire on these pages? How do the author and illustrator help us to know how the characters are feeling?” Model how to return to the text and determine the meaning from context.

  • I think it is important to note how Fookwire feels on the last page of the book. “How does Old Man Fookwire feel about the squirrels on this page?” What clues does the author and illustrator give us?”

  • Then ask your students: “What is the theme of this story?” Have students do a Turn & Talk. Listen for student responses and then do a whole group debrief. You may want students to do some writing here as a way to check their understanding.





Explore

Meeting Students’ Needs

C. Anchor Chart: Examining Engineering Design (20 minutes)

  • Make a poster of the Engineering Design Process on the right

  • Tell students about the 3 parts of this process

  • Have a whole group discussion about where Mr. Fookwire is doing each of these things.
  • Then discuss where the squirrels are engaging in these parts.


  • Reread p. 20-21 where the squirrels are planning. Use the worksheet on p. 16 of this packet to engage students in understanding some key engineering ideas.



  • Making public notes is a great strategy for supporting all learners.



EXTRA Text-Dependent Questions

  • When the author says, “Devise a plan”… what do you think the word “devise” means?

  • Why did the squirrels design bird costumes at the end of the story?

  • Use these questions to help students focus on key ideas and words in the text.



Explain

Meeting Students’ Needs

A. Revisiting Engineering (15 minutes)

  • Ask students, “What do engineers do?” (Solve problems!!!)

  • Tell students, “Now you are going to answer an important question- Is Papa actually an engineer in the story? Use the anchor charts and our discussions to help you write an answer.”

  • Tell them that they will continue to learn about engineering this year and will have several opportunities to solve problems.

  • Developing self-assessment and reflection supports all learners, but research shows it supports struggling learners most.
  • Provide ELLs with a sentence starter to aid in language production. For example: “I think Rosie is an engineer because _______.”





EXTEND (Optional)

Meeting Students’ Needs

  1. Engineering Design Challenge

    The best option would be to engage in an existing Engineering Design Challenge from your instructional materials such as:

  • Designing a way to pollinate flowers that mimics what insects do.

  • Designing a way to observe seeds while they sprout.

  • Use this book to supplement the Bridges in Mathematics Unit 8 in Grade 3 Constructing and Designing Bridges

    You may also engage in a “stand-alone” Engineering Design Challenge such as:

  • The Marshmallow Challenge

  • The Paper Tower Challenge

  • Optimizing a bird feeder to keep squirrels out

  1. Paired Reading: Informational Text

    Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh p. 50-52 on Alexia Abernathy who invented a no-spill bowl.






  • Sometimes struggling students will be more successful during engineering design challenges than during other academic content. Make sure to make a space for them to be successful… and be prepared for some of your academically successful students to struggle a bit with a more open/unstructured task.

  • Pairing informational text can help prepare students for SBAC assessment tasks.

  • Paired readings are selected to highlight women/girls in engineering.


Grade 3: Those Darn Squirrels

Supporting Materials



Overview and Background Information on Engineering in the Next Generation Science Standards

The following information provides background on Engineering Design in the Next Generation Science Standards. You are not expected to teach all of these ideas using this one picture book! This information is here for your own understanding as a teacher.

The text, Those Darn Squirrels provides an excellent way to teach students about the THREE components of Engineering Design in the Next Generation Science Standards.
Important Terminology and Text from Appendix I of NGSS

Technology: we broadly use the term “technology” to include all types of human-made systems and processes—not in the limited sense often used in schools that equates technology with modern computational and communications devices. Technologies result when engineers apply their understanding of the natural world and of human behavior to design ways to satisfy human needs and wants.
Engineering: We use the term “engineering” in a very broad sense to mean any engagement in a systematic practice of design to achieve solutions to particular human problems.
Science: is generally taken to mean the traditional natural sciences: physics, chemistry, biology, and (more recently) earth, space, and environmental sciences
Engineering Design in the Framework

The term “engineering design” has replaced the older term “technological design,” consistent with the definition of engineering as a systematic practice for solving problems, and technology as the result of that practice. According to the Framework: “From a teaching and learning point of view, it is the iterative cycle of design that offers the greatest potential for applying science knowledge in the classroom and engaging in engineering practices” (NRC 2012, pp. 201-2). The Framework recommends that students explicitly learn how to engage in engineering design practices to solve problems.

The Framework also projects a vision of engineering design in the science curriculum, and of what students can accomplish from early school years to high school:
In some ways, children are natural engineers. They spontaneously build sand castles, dollhouses, and hamster enclosures, and they use a variety of tools and materials for their own playful purposes. …Children’s capabilities to design structures can then be enhanced by having them pay attention to points of failure and asking them to create and test redesigns of the bridge so that it is stronger. (NRC, 2012, p. 70).
By the time these students leave high school, they can “undertake more complex engineering design projects related to major global, national, or local issues” (NRC, 2012, p. 71). The core idea of engineering design includes three component ideas:
3 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, and constraints or 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.
C. 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.

Engineering Design in Grades 3-5

At the upper elementary grades, engineering design engages students in more formalized problem solving. Students define a problem using criteria for success and constraints or limits of possible solutions. Students research and consider multiple possible solutions to a given problem. Generating and testing solutions also becomes more rigorous as the students learn to optimize solutions by revising them several times to obtain the best possible design.





Engineering Design as Core Ideas 3-5 (ETS)

____ 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.

NGSS Performance Expectations with Engineering connections

(There are 6 PEs with engineering connections in grades 3-5)
____ 3-PS2-4 Define a simple design problem that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets.
____ 3-LS4-4 Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
____ 3-ESS3-1 Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.
____ 4-PS3-4 Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another

____ 4-PS4-3 Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.

____ 4-ESS3-2 Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.

Those Darn Squirrels Journal

Vocabulary




Word/Phrase

Definition

This helps me know what this word means …

Connections to Engineering

engineer











cleverest










geniuses










devised










plan












Those Darn Squirrels Journal

Vocabulary


Word/Phrase


Definition

This helps me know what this word means …

Connections to Engineering

stockpile
















































Those Darn Squirrels Journal

Questions



  1. What do engineers do? (Use evidence from the video you watched to support your answer.


  1. What is the theme of the book, Those Darn Squirrels?




  1. Is Mr. Fookwire actually an engineer? Use specific details from the story to support your answer.



Those Darn Squirrels Journal

Compare & Contrast




Mr. Fookwire

Squirrels

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Those Darn Squirrels Journal

Probe
What Do Engineers Do?


Which of the following is the best description of what engineers do?
_____ Engineers solve problems
_____ Engineers make things
_____ Engineers invent new products
_____ Engineers fix machines
_____ Engineers do experiments
_____ Engineers build bridges and airplanes
_____ Engineers drive trains

Describe your thinking. Provide an explanation for your answer.


Those Darn Squirrels Journal

Engineering Design



Use the image from the book Those Darn Squirrels to think about Engineering Design



State the problem the squirrels are attempting to solve:
Identify constraints (limits):
Identify criteria for success (goals):
Brainstorm 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?










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