Hands-on Activity: Write On!

Contributed by: Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder

A photograph shows two students working on a writing assignment with a teacher nearby reviewing their work.
Students write their own work.
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Summary

As a summary activity for the Environment unit, students individually create a book, newspaper or other published work to communicate what they have learned about engineering and the environment.

Engineering Connection

Engineers need to communicate well. They need to consider their audience—government representatives, company representatives, school teachers and students or community citizens—and choose appropriate vocabulary to explain the technical engineering concepts.

Learning Objectives

After this activity, students should be able create a product to communicate their understanding of the multitude of engineering and environmental topics presented in the Environment unit.

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Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

  • Information can be acquired and sent through a variety of technological sources, including print and electronic media. (Grades 3 - 5) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
Suggest an alignment not listed above

Materials List

Use materials available to the classroom to create the products. Some might include:

  • paper (lined, plain, colored)
  • pens, pencils, markers, crayons
  • poster board
  • scissors (regular, decorative)
  • glue
  • other art supplies (glitter, yarn, sequins, etc.)
  • computers with Internet access, books and/or library visit for resources

Introduction/Motivation

What would happen if engineers did not communicate? Would we ever understand how to help the environment and what new technologies could be available to us? Engineers need to be able to share what they have done with others in order to get their ideas and designs to people who need them. It makes no sense for an engineer to design a new water treatment system and never share it with a community who needs one.

Engineers also need to be able to communicate to people who are not necessarily engineers. They need to think about who their audience is and how they would speak to them. Maybe it is their boss, an outside company, a school group or a group of concerned citizens in a community. Would you explain a science project the same way to your teacher as you would to a younger brother or sister? Sometimes you have to explain the difficult words to a younger sibling but not to your teacher. Maybe not, but this is one thing engineers need to think about when they want to communicate their ideas.

Are you better at explaining things in words or pictures? Do you understand things better when they are presented in words, pictures or acted out? We have learned a lot about the environment and engineers in this unit. How can you explain what you have learned? Today we are going to make list of things we have learned and then create a product(s) to communicate our understanding of engineers and how they work to help the environment. Get your creative caps on because you will want to come up with the most interesting way to show what you have learned.

Procedure

Before the Activity

  • Decide whether you will create one product as a class, group projects, or individual projects. The expectations and required information may change due to this decision.
  • Find or make an example of a product to show the students, such as an example book.
  • Gather all the supplies in one area. Develop a scoring rubric for the product(s). For a tutorial on creating a rubric visit: http://health.usf.edu/publichealth/eta/Rubric_Tutorial/

With the Students

  1. Preliminary work: Ask students what they have learned from this unit about engineers and the environment. Write a list of topics on the board.
  2. Have students create their products using requirements and constraints, just like engineers would.

Example Requirements

  • Demonstrates a synthesis of several ideas presented in the unit, for example, not just describing air pollution.
  • It includes some information (at least three specific examples) about an engineer roles that involve the natural environment.
  • The product is created in color, with words and pictures.
  • It includes some type of interactive activity (puzzle, game, quiz, etc.).
  • It includes at least one of: a table of contents, an index, or a glossary (as necessary).
  • It includes a list of references.
  • The creator makes an presentation to the class (or another classroom).
  • Other ideas that are standards-specific to your grade.

Example Constraints

  • Length of time to complete (1-3 class periods).
  • Length of product (page limit or size).

Example Products

  • A book of suggestions for ways people can help improve the environmental health of Earth.
  • An Environmental ABC book (this is a great class project).
  • An Environmental Dictionary (this is a great class project).
  • Environmental Newspaper/newsletter/magazine.
  • Collection of original poems, short stories, etc.
  • A collection of environmentally-inspired artwork (including information about the theme, the artist and the medium).
  • A picture storybook for young children.
  • An environmental "I Spy..." book
  • A book of environmentally friendly cleaning suggestions.
  • A set of biographies of local environmental engineers or others in the community who are environmentally active.
  • Proposal to the principal, student council, cafeteria manager, etc. suggesting a plan for the school to be more environmentally friendly.
  • A mock-report to a community from an engineering firm.
  • A short engineering presentation to a conference.
  • A commercial or skit about engineering and the environment.
  • Anything you can think of!

Process Check

  • Check with students/teams about half-way through the allotted time to see how it's going.

Post Activity

  • Ask one or two students/teams to volunteer to present and describe their product.
  • Evaluate student products using your scoring rubric and give them some individual/team feedback.

Troubleshooting Tips

Some students will need quite a bit of organizational help with this activity.

It is helpful for students to have a rubric to accompany this activity; since that is product specific, one is not included here.

Assessment

Pre-Activity Assessment

Brainstorming: Ask students what they have learned from this unit about engineers and the environment. Write a list of topics on the board.

Activity Embedded Assessment

Process Check: Check with students/teams about half-way through the allotted time to see how it is going.

Post Activity Assessment

Presentation: Ask one or two students/teams to volunteer to present and describe their product.

Rubric: Evaluate student projects using the scoring rubric and give them some individual/team feedback.

Activity Extensions

Explore the possibility of having the work(s) professionally published.

Invite an engineer/environmentalist to share something s/he has published.

Put the work on display in the library. Consider entering them as part of the permanent school collection.

If you publish a newsletter/newspaper, consider distributing it to the entire school.

Activity Scaling

This activity is appropriate for all age and ability levels.

Contributors

Amy Kolenbrander; Jessica Todd; Malinda Schaefer Zarske; Janet Yowell

Copyright

© 2005 by Regents of the University of Colorado

Supporting Program

Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder

Acknowledgements

The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education and National Science Foundation (GK-12 grant no. 0338326). However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education or National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: July 21, 2017

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