Lesson Plan Overview / Details
In this lesson students get experience in using brainstorming techniques to develop preliminary ideas to solve an engineering problem.
- 1 Class Period - Each Period
- 90 Minutes
California Career and Technical Education Standards
- ED.C.C10.3 Use freehand graphic communication skills to represent conceptual ideas, analysi...
- ED.D.D5.1 Understand the steps in the design process.
- MPD.FS.5.1 Apply appropriate problem-solving strategies and critical thinking skills to wor...
California Academic Content Standards (Reinforced)
- ELA.9-10.LS.C.1.1 Formulate judgments about the ideas under discussion and support those judgments...
- ELA.9-10.LS.ODOC.1.7 Use props, visual aids, graphs, and electronic media to enhance the appeal and a...
- ELA.9-10.R.CAGT.2.5 Extend ideas presented in primary or secondary sources through original analysis...3
Objectives and Goals
- Students will understand how to perform the brainstorming step of the Engineering Design Process.
- At the end of this lesson students will have experience using brainstorming techniques to generate ideas for solving part of an engineering design problem.
- Students will effectively work in small teams to develop their team solution to the activity.
- Students gain experience making a small team presentation in front of their class.
Activities in this Lesson
- Anticipatory Set - What is that thing? - Hooks / Set
Teacher projects a picture of a white egg-shaped object onto the board. The object is has a hole on one end and a ring around the top. After the students have an opportunity to look at the object the teacher asks "What is that thing?". Students are called on to guess what the object is and what it might be used for. (See attached picture).
- Discussion - Lecture
During this portion of the lesson the white object picture is still being projected on the board in the front of the classroom.
The teacher answers the anticipatory set question. It turns out that the picture is a modern toilet. The teacher points out that the toilet design and manufacturing industry in the United States is very competitive. Each home in our nation has at least 1 of these products, and many homes have multiple toilets. This product is sold to every business, school, and store in the country. Hardware stores have entire aisles dedicated to replacement toilets.
How does a business differentiate their product in this vast marketplace to attract new and replacement customers? How does creative engineering design give 1 company an edge over another?
- Lecture - What is Brainstorming? - Lecture
Teacher now lectures on brainstorming as a technique to generate creative solutions to an engineering problem. This is a short lesson using a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation (lesson attached). The emphasis of the instruction is that brainstorming is a critical step in the Engineering Design Process where multiple potential solutions to an engineering problem are identified.
- Brainstorming.ppt [ Download ] PowerPoint lesson on brainstorming
- Connecting lecture to anticipatory set - Demo / Modeling
Following the lesson portion of the PowerPoint presentation are several pictures of creative toilet designs. The pictures are shown to the class and the teacher discusses how creative design ideas can evolve into innovative consumer products. Brainstorming is a critical step in the creative design of innovative products.
- Group Brainstorming Activity - Group Work
The last slide of the PowerPoint presentation is a set of instructions for students to follow to complete a small team brainstorming activity. The students break into working teams of 4 students and brainstorm how they could design a more innovative toilet. Each team must ultimately come up with 5 new features or improvements to the common toilet. They must draw a picture of their toilet design improvements and prepare to present their ideas to the class.
Students are given a poster size piece of paper, crayons, markers, rulers, and tape to use when completing this activity. To maintain secrecy, the teams are physically separated so their ideas are not known to the other teams until the team presentations are made to the class.
I have found that it is necessary to limit the team brainstorming and poster drawing time to about 30 minutes (much more than that and the student ideas become silly and in some cases inappropriate).
- Student Presentations - Closure
This lesson concludes with the student teams presenting their design idea posters to the class. I post their drawings on an easel in the front of the classroom. I insist that the students begin their presentations with introductions and that each team member present at least 1 of the team's toilet design innovations. The students in the audience are given an opportunity to ask questions at the end of each team presentation.
I post the student posters on the wall of my classroom for several days after this activity. Note to teachers - I have had problems with students drawing inappropriate pictures on other teams posters after I post them on the wall.
Attached are pictures of students making their toilet innovation presentations in my classroom.
- Assessment Types:
Students in my class earn full credit for this assignment if they complete it on time and present their 5 ideas to the class. I do not use a rubric or attempt to evaluate the quality of their team solution. This is a pass / fail activity. I do this activity very early in the year, and it serves as a learning experience and an icebreaker. I expect all of the students to use the brainstorming step of the engineering design process in every class design project for the remainder of the year.