ALEX Lesson Plan

     

Evaluating the Design of a Dam

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Brooke Love
System: Chickasaw City
School: Chickasaw City Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35515

Title:

Evaluating the Design of a Dam

Overview/Annotation:

Students will be given the task to build a dam that will stand against water. Students will design and build a scaled model of a dam and test the model for the ability to reduce the impact of a flood. Students will build a scaled model dam and test the dam’s effectiveness in preventing flood waters. Students will evaluate the efficacy of the dam they constructed and built. Students will contemplate what actions can be taken and materials that could be used in order to create a more effective dam in the future.

This unit was created as part of the ALEX Interdisciplinary Resource Development Summit.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
15 ) Evaluate a design solution (e.g., flood barriers, wind resistant roofs, lightning rods) that reduces the impact of a weather-related hazard.*

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth and Human Activity
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Merit
  • Claim
  • Problem/solution
  • Design solution
  • Impact
  • Reduce
  • Weather-related hazard
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • Engineers design solutions to reduce the impact of weather related hazards.
  • Problems caused by weather related problems.
  • Humans can not eliminate natural hazards but can take steps to reduce their impacts.
  • Some design solutions are more effective than others.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Identify impacts of a weather related hazard.
  • Identify the effects of solutions to a problem that reduces the impact of a weather related hazard.
  • Make a claim about a designed solution that reduces the impact of a weather related hazard.
  • Communicate evidence to support the claim about a designed solution that reduces the impact of a weather related hazard.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • There are cause and effect relationships between weather-related hazards and design solutions created to reduce their impact.
  • There are benefits and risks to given solutions created when responding to the societal demand to reduce the impact of a hazard.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Weather and Climate

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E4.11: Humans depend on their natural and constructed environment. Humans change environments in ways that can either be beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms.



Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.3.15- Identify practices that keep people safe during severe weather.


Local/National Standards:

 

Primary Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will analyze the materials that reduce the impact of the weather-related hazard (flooding).

  • Students will make a claim or hypothesis about a design solution that reduces the impact of a weather related hazard.

  • Students will communicate evidence to support the claim about a designed solution that reduces the impact of a weather related hazard.

  • Students will create a dam design to simulate a test of an adequate dam to prevent flooding.

  • Students will evaluate the efficacy of the dam constructed and determine what caused the dam to be effective or not.

  • Students will contemplate materials that could be more effective if a dam was to be constructed and tested again.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Research text:  “Dams and Hydropower”, Idaho Public Television https://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/edsvcs/stem_colloquium_resources/breakout4/Nonfiction_Reading--Dams2.pdf  

The teacher will need to provide access to the following materials for students:

  • Post-it notes (enough for each student to have two)

  • Chart Paper (one for each group)

  • Index cards for vocabulary flashcards (eight per student)

The teacher will need to provide access to the following materials for each teacher created group:

  • Chromebooks or portable technology device to research ideas, such as iPad, tablet, etc. (one for each group)

  • Internet access

  • bucket or small plastic storage bin (one for each group assigned by the teacher)

    The groups should be strategically created by the teacher. The number of students per group should be kept smaller (such as 3-4 students) in order for all students to have an opportunity to be fully engaged in the activity.

  • Marshmallows (small marshmallows work better, one bag for each group)

  • Toothpicks (one box per group)

  • Tape (one roll for each group, having the easy dispense kind is best so that students can manipulate the tape while they are constructing)

  • Paper (cardstock or any type of sturdy paper)

  • Clay (modeling clay works well but is very stiff so it may be necessary to use Play-Doh)

  • Sticks (have students bring these from home or collect them from outdoors at school)

  • Mud (consider keeping an additional container for each group if they choose to mix up their own mud during the construction phase of the process)

  • String (yarn works as well, one roll suggested per group)

  • Legos (students may bring this from home)

  • Plastic spoons (one box per group)

  • Popsicle sticks/craft sticks (one box per group)

Technology Resources Needed:

Computer or personal technology device (such as a tablet or iPad) with internet access

Dams Breaking Compilation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=990HdxfEB0I

Background/Preparation:

The teacher should gain access to electronic devices prior to student introduction.

Prior to the lesson, the teacher will ensure students are proficient in the following skills:

  • Students should have a working knowledge of keyboarding skills.

  • Students should be aware of internet safety.

  • Students should be aware of the protocol for constructive criticism.

This lesson can be utilized concurrently as part of the Reducing The Impact of a Flood unit which includes the following lessons:

Students will know their elbow partner is a student that sits next to them.

  Procedures/Activities: 

Before: 

The teacher will introduce the lesson by showing multiple dams that have failed over the course of time.  See Dams Breaking Compilation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=990HdxfEB0I

The teacher will define the vocabulary words:

  1. merit- the quality of being particularly good or worthy

  2. claim- an assertion of the truth

  3. problem- a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome

  4. design solution- a solution to a design

  5. impact- coming into forcible contact with another object

  6. reduce- to make smaller or in fewer amounts

  7. dam- built across a body of water slows the movement of water behind it, creates a large reservoir for water supply, decreases erosion

  8. efficacy-the ability to produce a desired or intended result

The students will make flashcards to study the eight terms listed previously to be incorporated into their discussions and reflections about the process of building and testing the dam.

The teacher will guide a class discussion to determine if the students have any experience with flooding in their homes, or been exposed to flooding due to a hurricane.

The teacher will explain to the students that they will soon begin to evaluate the possible problems that may have caused the dams in the video to fail.

The teacher will explain that the students will also design their own dam based on their knowledge of failing dams and what they hypothesize (claim) would be a better solution to preventing the flooding hazard.

The students will take “silent wait time” (10-30 seconds) to think about what may have caused the dams in the video to fail.

Next, the students will write their idea on a Post-it note.

The students will then turn and talk to their elbow partners about what they wrote on their Post-it note.

The teacher will listen to students' elbow partner conversations and will be sure to acknowledge on task thinking, unique ideas, and incorporation of vocabulary taught.

The teacher will prompt students in peer discussions if any students appear to be off task or have trouble conveying ideas.

Finally, the teacher will choose a couple of Post-it notes per table and write the students ideas on chart paper.

The students will be grouped up by the teacher and begin to research different ways to build a dam. Suggested text for research:  “Dams and Hydropower”, Idaho Public Television https://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/edsvcs/stem_colloquium_resources/breakout4/Nonfiction_Reading--Dams2.pdf

During:

Students will use internet access with Chromebooks or portable technology devices (such as tablets) to begin researching their ideas on designing and constructing a dam to test.

The teacher will facilitate the research process as needed and ensure all students are on task and using the internet appropriately.

Students will review the supplies and materials to be used by their group.

Students will collaborate with their group members to draw a design of the dam they plan to build and begin to prepare and or modify materials they will be using to construct their dam.

The suggested dam supply materials are as follows: bucket or small plastic storage bin, marshmallows, toothpicks, tape, paper, clay, sticks, mud, string, legos, plastic spoons, popsicle sticks, and sticks.(Students will not be required to use all materials but will not diverge from the list of offered materials for the initial test of their initial dam construction.)

The students will use the group's design drawing to guide the construction process. To build the dam, the students will utilize their supplies and attempt to build a dam in the middle of the container that will keep half the container dry and keep all the water on the other side.

The teacher can use any size container for this project, keeping in mind that the bigger the container, the more water and dam supplies that will be needed.

Once the dams are built, students will test their dams by adding water to one side of the container.

Students will pour water into one side of the pan in order to test the efficacy of the dam as it is proven effective by not allowing water through to the opposing side of the dam.

After: 

Students will observe if their dam is successful in holding water.

The teacher will walk around and watch the students as they test and determine the flaws in their dams.

The teacher will ensure students are evaluating their design and discussing how designs could improve.

The teacher will assess the students’ learning of the objectives by using a rubric to guide and score each student’s claim, analysis of materials, evidence supporting the claim, efficacy of the dam test, and conclusion of the test. The rubric used to guide and score the students' learning of the objectives can be found at http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php?screen=ShowRubric&rubric_id=2698307&.

For early finishers, as an extension, students may exchange supplies in their next attempt on the task if their initial testing fails, but they must attempt to use all supplies selected and determined by the group’s first hypothesis.


  Assessment  

Assessment Strategies

The teacher will informally assess students’ claim and plan by observing student conversations during group work while ensuring students document the theories and plan of action they discuss in their journals.

 The teacher will informally assess students’ analysis of materials by asking probing questions such as, “What materials may have allowed water to pass around or through to the opposite side of the container?” and “What materials may have allowed the dam to be more effective?” The teacher should ensure students document the theories they discuss in their journals.

The teacher will informally assess the students’ evidence that does or does not support their claim by listening for vocabulary words taught explicitly (merit, claim, problem, design solution, impact, reduce, dam, efficacy) that accurately communicate the evidence of the outcome, while ensuring students document the theories they discuss in their journals

The teacher will informally assess students as the groups observe whether their dam design is effective or has merit after each group has tested it by evidence of no water passing through or around the dam to the opposing side of the container or tub that the students poured the water into, while ensuring students document the theories they discuss in their journals

The teacher will informally assess the conclusion of the effective or ineffective dam design by observing group discussion after the test of the dam.

The teacher will assess the students by scoring their individual journals that are maintained throughout the process in creating a hypothesis (stating a claim), designing a dam, constructing the dam, and testing the dam. The journal will be graded and assessed through Engineered Solution Dam Evaluation Journal and Presentation portion of the unit. The rubric used to guide and score journaling through the design, construction and testing process can be found at http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php?screen=ShowRubric&rubric_id=2695366&

The teacher will summatively assess the student's learning objectives by using a rubric to guide and score each student’s claim, analysis of materials, evidence supporting the claim, efficacy of the dam test, and conclusion of the test. The rubric used to guide and score the student’s learning objective can be found http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php?screen=ShowRubric&rubric_id=2698307&

 

Acceleration:

Students working at an accelerated level who have tested their dam and found it to be unsuccessful may repeat the process by forming another hypothesis (stating a claim), designing a new dam, constructing another dam, and then testing the dam again. Students will be responsible for maintaining a journal that reflects an initial design process and an additional design process.

 Students working at an accelerated level, who have tested their dam and found it to be effective can begin a similar process with the task of an engineered solution for wind resistant roofs or lightning rods.

Intervention:

The teacher may need to substitute modeling clay for playdoh if a student has dexterity or joint complications.

The teacher will allow peer tutors for completion of vocabulary index cards as they will pertain to discussion and reflection of the dam built and tested.

The teacher will prompt students in peer discussions if any students appear to be off task or have trouble conveying ideas.

The teacher may need to facilitate certain groups if there appears to be a lack of cohesiveness to the task in order to facilitate productive collaboration.

 


View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.