Hands-on Activity: Chair Design
Educational Standards :
Learning Objectives (Return to Contents)
After this activity, students should be able to:
Materials List (Return to Contents)
Each group needs:
To share with the entire class:
Introduction/Motivation (Return to Contents)
Engineers are responsible for designing everything in the human-made world. What might this include? (Have students name a few items.) Yes, they design airplanes, bridges, cars, computers, computer keyboards, etc. It's pretty obvious that you would need someone to design these things.
Engineers are also responsible for designing the less obvious products. How about boxes? Teams of engineers are responsible for designing cardboard boxes to serve very specific purposes. What types of things do you think they consider as they design boxes?
What could happen if the box is not sturdy enough for the cargo?
You can see that a lot of thought must go into each item that is designed. The design of the box changes depending on what is inside. You could have two items that require the same size box, but the box would need to be different because one box is for a bottle of liquid medicine and the other box is for pens. How do you think this would affect the box design?
Think about a chair. It might be hard to imagine that engineers are still designing chairs considering how long they've been around, but think of a baby's high chair vs. a chair in a doctor's office. What factors must engineers consider as they design chairs?
The answers to these questions helps to dictate the design. For example, a chair in a doctor's office can be covered in fabric. But, this would be a bad idea for a baby's high chair since it gets so dirty every day.
For the next few weeks you will act as engineers. You will work in teams to design and build a chair prototype. You will outline where your chair will be located, who will sit in it, etc. Then, you will design and build a prototype. As you work, you will follow the steps of the engineering design process, and record your design process in an Engineer's Journal. You will use wire for your chair prototype, but think about what kind of materials you would use when you turned your prototype into a real chair.
Vocabulary/Definitions (Return to Contents)
Procedure (Return to Contents)
Before beginning the activity, lead a discussion with the class about engineering and what engineers do. Students should know that engineers follow the steps of the engineering design process as they work. The basic steps are: identify the problem, brainstorm ideas, choose and plan the best idea, create a prototype, test, and redesign.
Before the Activity
With the Students
Safety Issues (Return to Contents)
Investigating Questions (Return to Contents)
Assessment (Return to Contents)
Activity Embedded Assessment
Design Journal: As students progress through the activity, have them fill in the prompted questions and sketches in the attached My Chair Design Journal. Review their answers to gauge their comprehension of the subject.
Evaluation Rubric: Evaluate students using the attached Chair Design Matrix, which includes the criteria categories of brainstorming, imaging-planning-improving, creating, sharing and prototype design .
Additional Multimedia Support (Return to Contents)
Learn more about the engineering design process at http://www.teachengineering.org/engrdesignprocess.php
ContributorsAndrew Afram, Erica Wilson, Elissa Milto
Copyright© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2006 Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Supporting Program (Return to Contents)Center for Engineering Educational Outreach, Tufts University
Last Modified: September 2, 2014