Engineering Design

Brittany Zae

This lesson is designed to 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.

Grade Level: 4 - 6th

Subject: Science

Length of Time: About 45 Minutes

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Objectives & Outcomes

Students will be able to: build a structure using pipe cleaners; planning, executing, and evaluating their teamwork using the graphic organizer

Materials Needed

  • pipecleaners
  • graphic organizer (can be tailored by each teacher)


Opening to Lesson

  • Introduce lesson with pictures of tall structures, remind students of prior knowledge, and try to name tall structures you post on the computer.
  • CFU: Name one of the tallest buildings in the world? What are some of the tallest buildings that you’ve been to? Seen in your own neighborhood?

Body of Lesson

Direct Teaching

  •  Think Aloud:  teacher demonstrates lesson for students talking out her thought process; will show students how to plan, draw, and execute a structure.
  • CFU: Popsicle sticks: Someone repeat the steps I took to make this structure.

Guided Practice 1

  • Ask students to draw a design on their white-board of what a house made of cards would look like.
  • CFU: Show structures/drawings to teacher, pair-share design with their neighbor- why/how did you construct your house of cards?

Guided Practice 2

  • Small cup structure; 2 volunteers to come up and help build a tower of cups.
  • Students will watch and compare structures….may use help from the “audience” to guide their structure.

Independent Practice

  • In groups, students will assemble their own structure under the provided guidelines: tallest, free-standing structure; may only use pipe cleaners, you have 10 minutes to plan, use graphic organizer, and 10 minutes to construct your tallest building.


Have each group select the spokesperson for the group to explain the process the group went through when done.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Through guided questions, close monitoring and informal observation; the teacher will be able to assess student’s ability and understanding of the subject being introduced. Through individually assessing during independent practice and reviewing during guided practice the teacher will be able to evaluate students.

Modification & Differentiation

Allow students time to brainstorm ideas. Give opportunities for students to work in small groups or on a one-on-one basis with the teacher.

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