Hands-on Activity: Design an Egyptian Playground

Contributed by: Center for Engineering Educational Outreach, Tufts University

A children's playground in Utah.
A children's playground
copyright
Copyright © http://sandy.utah.gov/uploads/RTEmagicC_lone_peak_playground.jpg.jpg

Summary

Student teams use their knowledge about ancient Egypt to design playgrounds for Egyptian children. This involves brainstorming ideas on paper, building models with LEGO® bricks or other materials, and explaining their ideas to the class in five-minute presentations.
This engineering curriculum meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Engineers work within constraints such as available materials and what is acceptable for a certain culture. In this activity, students study early Egyptian cultural influences and design playgrounds for children in ancient Egypt.

Pre-Req Knowledge

General knowledge of ancient Egyptian culture and architecture. (As necessary, make this a research assignment prior to the design component of the activity.)

Learning Objectives

After completing this activity, students will know the steps of the engineering design process.

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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.

  • Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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    This Performance Expectation focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:
    Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
    Define a design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process or system and includes multiple criteria and constraints, including scientific knowledge that may limit possible solutions.The more precisely a design task's criteria and constraints can be defined, the more likely it is that the designed solution will be successful. Specification of constraints includes consideration of scientific principles and other relevant knowledge that is likely to limit possible solutions.All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of people and the natural environment.The uses of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions.
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  • Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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    This Performance Expectation focuses on the following Three Dimensional Learning aspects of NGSS:
    Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
    Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.
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  • New products and systems can be developed to solve problems or to help do things that could not be done without the help of technology. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • The development of technology is a human activity and is the result of individual and collective needs and the ability to be creative. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Economic, political, and cultural issues are influenced by the development and use of technology. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Throughout history, new technologies have resulted from the demands, values, and interests of individuals, businesses, industries, and societies. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Social and cultural priorities and values are reflected in technological devices. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Meeting societal expectations is the driving force behind the acceptance and use of products and systems. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Design is a creative planning process that leads to useful products and systems. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • There is no perfect design. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Requirements for design are made up of criteria and constraints. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Design involves a set of steps, which can be performed in different sequences and repeated as needed. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Brainstorming is a group problem-solving design process in which each person in the group presents his or her ideas in an open forum. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Modeling, testing, evaluating, and modifying are used to transform ideas into practical solutions. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Apply a design process to solve problems in and beyond the laboratory-classroom. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Specify criteria and constraints for the design. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Make two-dimensional and three-dimensional representations of the designed solution. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Test and evaluate the design in relation to pre-established requirements, such as criteria and constraints, and refine as needed. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Describe and explain parts of a structure, e.g., foundation, flooring, decking, wall, roofing systems. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Identify and explain the steps of the engineering design process, i.e., identify the need or problem, research the problem, develop possible solutions, select the best possible solution(s), construct a prototype, test and evaluate, communicate the solution(s), and redesign. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Identify appropriate materials, tools, and machines needed to construct a prototype of a given engineering design. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Given a design task, identify appropriate materials (e.g., wood, paper, plastic, aggregates, ceramics, metals, solvents, adhesives) based on specific properties and characteristics (e.g., strength, hardness, and flexibility). (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Demonstrate methods of representing solutions to a design problem, e.g., sketches, orthographic projections, multiview drawings. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Describe and explain the purpose of a given prototype. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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Suggest an alignment not listed above

Materials List

  • paper and pencils
  • books on ancient Egypt, or computers with Internet access, for research
  • (optional) computer with CAD tool software
  • (optional) LEGO bricks or other building blocks, or other materials such as cardboard boxes, tape, scissors, sand, paint, etc.

Introduction/Motivation

The Great Sphinx with the Pyramid of Khafre in Egypt
copyright
Copyright © Daniel Mayer. Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giza_Plateau_-_Great_Sphinx_with_Pyramid_of_Khafre_in_background.JPG

Egypt's children are in dire need of a playground. The Pharaoh has just appointed you as the new royal playground designer. Come up with a model playground and present it to the Pharaoh.

Procedure

Design Process Step 1—Identify the Problem

Make sure student teams are clear on the objective to design and model an ancient Egyptian playground.

Design Process Step 2—Research

Use books or the Internet as research and reference tools to learn about the culture of ancient Egypt, and the questions that arise in thinking about available materials and construction techniques available at that time and place. Ask the Investigating Questions to help students focus their research.

Design Process Step 3—Develop Solutions and Selection

Brainstorm ideas. Draw layouts of playground designs. Indicate materials and dimensions on the designs. Choose the best one to build a model for the Pharaoh presentation.

Design Process Step 4—Develop a Prototype (Model)

Using the available resources (LEGO bricks, CAD software or scrap materials), construct model playgrounds based on research and drawn designs.

Design Process Step 5—Test and Evaluate

Have groups compare each others' playground models and discuss differences, similarities, materials, features and functionality.

Design Process Step 6—Communicate and Re-Design

In five-minute presentations (as if to the Pharaoh), have students describe and explain the rationale for their model playground architecture and layouts. Leave time for audience questions and feedback. As a class, decide which team's design would win the Pharaoh's approval.

With what they learned from the critique of their own design, and the ideas from other designs, have students amend their drawings with improvements that they would incorporate to make better playground designs.

Investigating Questions

  • What building materials would be available in ancient Egypt?
  • What modern building materials would not be availble in ancient Egypt?
  • What construction methods would be available in ancient Egypt?

Assessment

Final Pharaoh Presentation: Assess students based on their creativity; team involvement; incorporation of realistically available materials in ancient Egypt; model accuracy and details; and presentation content, clarity and style.

Additional Multimedia Support

Learn more about the steps of the engineering design process at https://www.teachengineering.org/engrdesignprocess.php

Contributors

Heather Blackwell; Bryan Licciadri; Anthony Trinh

Copyright

© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2005 Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Supporting Program

Center for Engineering Educational Outreach, Tufts University

Acknowledgements

The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under a National Science Foundation GK-12 grant. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: August 17, 2018

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