A CIESE Collaborative Project

## Mini-Squares of Life

Overview
In this lesson students will solve the problem: How can we easily mark a small square to investigate in the same way that we studied a square meter? Students will use the Engineering Design Process to create a device, a "mini-square marker," that they can use to mark off a small area of study outdoors.
Note : Go to The Museum of Science, Boston for a one page teacher tutorial on using the Engineering Design Process with children.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

• Brainstorm several ideas for making it easy to mark a square on the ground.
• Predict which materials will make the best device.
• Use prior and new knowledge to design the device.
• Compare the suitability of different designs.
• Create a tool/device that they will use to complete a mini square investigation.

Materials

• Pencils or markers
• Rubber bands
• Cardboard/oaktag /manila folders
• Tape
• Popsicle sticks
• Paper
• Index cards
• Rulers
• Scissors
• Glue
• String
• Hand lenses (for square study)
• Compass

Time: One hour for introduction, designing and constructing. Plan time within a few days to go outside for the mini-square investigation.

Procedure

Introduction

• Remind the students that the squares they studied for The Square of Life project were one meter on each side. Tell them that they will now have a chance to study their own smaller squares in different areas, and they will be making a tool that will help them define or show a square,
• Introduce the problem: What tool can we make that will easily define/show a square so that we won't have to carry a ruler and measure a square on the ground every time we move to a different location in the school yard?

Brainstorm

• Ask: What would a device such as we need look like? The student responses might include, a picture frame or a window.
• Ask: What would be a good size for your mini-squares? (The students can come to a consensus on one size or a range of sizes. Since these are mini-squares, it's recommended that they be 10 square centimeters or less).

Design and Construct

• Provide constraints and specifications:
• Use only the materials provided.
• The mini-square will define a plot of ground 5-10 square centimeters in size.
• The mini-square tool must lie flat on the ground.
• It must be heavy enough so that it won't blow away.
• It must be sturdy enough to be used many times.
• Students work in groups to plan and sketch their ideas.
• Students build their mini-square tools.

Test Them Out

• Take the mini-square tools outside and give the students time to use them in several different areas.
• Give students time to sketch, take notes, and collect samples, as they did in Square of Life lesson "Field Trip to Your Square."

Evaluation of Designs

• Ask the students: Did your tool stay in place? Did it make it easy for you to study your "mini square?" How could you improve on your design?
• If time allows have the students work on improving their designs.