Before Strategy/Engage: 10 minutes
1. The teacher should draw a web graphic organizer on the chart paper or the interactive whiteboard. The teacher should write “Communication” in the center of the web.
2. The teacher should ask students to share some ways that they are able to communicate with other people. Possible answers may include, talking, gesturing, texting on a phone, etc.
3. The teacher should tell students that they will construct a device to transmit sound waves over a distance to communicate with a classmate.
During Strategy/Explore & Explain: 30 minutes
1. The teacher should divide students into partner groups and distribute the materials needed for the cup phone sets (pre-cut 36-inch cotton string, 2 paper clips, and 2 paper cups).
2. The teacher should demonstrate how to create a cup phone set, then allow the students to create the model.
- Use a pencil to punch a hole in the bottom of each of the paper cups.
-Put one end of the string through the hole in the cup, then tie the paper clip to the string on the inside of the cup (this is to prevent the string from falling out of the cup).
-Repeat this same step for the other cup, now both cups should be connected by a string.
3. The teacher should designate one student in each partner group as “Student A” and one student as “Student B”. The teacher should gather all of the “Student As” in the class and provide them with a secret phrase (such as, “First grade is amazingly awesome!”). Then, the teacher should gather all of the “Student Bs” in the class and provide them with a different secret phrase. The teacher should be sure that the different phrases are kept private to ensure a fair scientific test.
4. The teacher should allow the partners to regroup and test their cup phone sets using the secret phrase. For example, Student A would whisper their assigned secret phrase into the cup phone, while partner B holds their cup phone to their ear to listen.
5. After students have had time to test their cup phone models, the teacher should regroup students together as a whole class. The teacher should ask for student volunteers from each group to share what they heard through the cup phone to determine the ability of the cup phones to transmit sound accurately.
Note: Most likely, some students misheard the secret phrase or couldn’t hear their partner well, which will give students an engineering purpose in the next part of the lesson.
6. Next, the teacher should create a chart titled “How can we make our cup phones better?” The teacher should show the additional materials that will be provided for the revised cup phone sets: 24-inch pre-cut cotton string, 36-inch pre-cut fishing line, and styrofoam cups. The teacher should write these materials down the left side of the chart, then ask for student volunteers to share why these materials may make better cup phones.
After Strategy/Explain & Elaborate: 30 minutes
1. The teacher should allow each partner group to choose the new material they would like to use to design and construct their revised model of the cup phone set.
2. The partner groups should follow the same basic procedures to create their cup phone set, just replacing their newly chosen material.
3. Then, the teacher should provide the “Student As” and the “Student Bs” with a new secret phrase. The students should test their new cup phone set using their newly assigned secret phrase to determine if the new material made a better or worse cup phone.
Note: The assessment handout will require students to write the secret phrase they heard from their partner. The teacher should be sure to choose a secret phrase that the students will be able to write.
4. After students complete their tests, the teacher should give each student a copy of the assessment handout. The teacher may allow students to work on the assessment independently or with their partner. The assessment will require students to reflect upon their revised cup phone set and determine if the revised cup phones worked better or worse than the original cup phones.