This activity integrates children’s literature, engineering design, mathematics, and English language arts. The children’s book I wrote helps students learn more about engineering and biomedical engineering. Biomedical engineering is an interdisciplinary STEM field that combines biology and engineering to create solutions for medicine and healthcare. English language arts standards are incorporated through reading the children’s book and a class discussion about the book. After reading the book, students work on an engineering design challenge to design and build a prosthetic leg. Mathematics is incorporated through measurement.
After readings students the book, The Little Engineer That Could, the teacher then leads a class discussion using the following questions. Alternatively, these can be used as individual writing prompts. Describe Cadence and her feelings throughout the story. What was her motivation for helping Danny? How did her actions contribute to the sequence of events in the story. How did Cadence respond to challenges that arose?
To begin the design challenge students watch the following video about the Invictus Games. The Invictus Games is an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women. The Games strive to use the power of sports to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect of all those who serve their country.
After watching the video, students answer the following questions.
1. Why do you think the Invictus Games are held?
2. Do you know anyone who has been injured, sick, or hurt?
3. Why is important to help and encourage others?
4. Have you ever done something that was difficult? Why is it important to keep putting forth effort and to not give up?
Sergeant Danny Mendez is participating in the Invictus Games. He wants your team to develop a comfortable leg for walking around the games when he is not competing. As a first step you will design and build the leg for one person in your group to test your prototype.
Criteria and Constraints
There are three criteria for the design. 1) The leg should be comfortable. 2) The leg should be sturdy and stable. The person in your group must be able to walk 10 feet with the prosthetic leg. 3) The prosthetic leg should be aesthetically pleasing (look good).
Rubric for criteria 1)
1 point- leg is not comfortable and causes pain.
2 points- leg is mildly comfortable with little discomfort or pain.
3 points- leg is comfortable with little discomfort and no pain
Rubric for criteria 3)
1 point-leg is not aesthetically pleasing
2 points- leg is somewhat aesthetically pleasing
3 points- leg is aesthetically pleasing
The constraints are that you can only use the provided materials and that you have 60 minutes to design and build the prosthetic leg.
Your group will have scissors, measuring tape, and a ruler.
-pvc plastic pipe
-large rubber bands
-toliet plunger (unused)
Mathematical discussion is important so that students can learn from each other and explain their thinking. There are 5 practices for teachers to orchestrate productive discussion. A brief description of the 5 practices is below.
-What was the big idea we worked on today?
-What did I learn today?
-What good ideas did I have today?
-What did I struggle with today?
-Where could I use the knowledge I learned today?
-What questions do I have about today's work?
-What new ideas do I have that this lesson made me think about?
A brief definition of mathematical modeling is real world mathematics problems that have more than one possible answer that students solve with choices or assumptions. The following information shows the benefit of mathematical modeling implementation in that all standards for mathematical practice can be integrated with mathematical modeling. Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs) are one type of mathematical modeling activity.
This is a good open-ended problem that creates quality mathematical discussion. The median and the mean of the scores for Jenna and Kim are the same, which can require students to think of other possible solutions. A benefit of this task is that there is no one specific "correct" solution. There is also no prescribed method for solving the problem. Incorporating these types of problems leads to increased engagement and discussion in class.
There were five judges for a figure skating competition: The top two competitors were Jenna and Kim. They received the scores below.
Jenna 8 6 10 9 7
Kim 9 9 7 8 7
Who should win?
A teacher stood before a class of thirty senior mathematics students. Before he passed out the final exam he stated, “I have been privileged to be your instructor this semester, and I know how hard you have worked to prepare for this test. Because I am confident that you know this material, I am prepared to offer an automatic B to anyone who opts to skip taking the final exam.”
There was great relief for some. A number of students went right for the offer and thanked the teacher.
“Last chance,” said the teacher and one more student went.
The instructor then handed out the final exam, which consisted of two sentences. “Congratulations,” it read, “you have just received an A in this class. Keep believing in yourself."
This problem was given to 1st and 2nd graders and many tried to answer the problem by using the numbers in the question and picking a mathematical operation. If math is too focused on memorization then students are not seeing the power of mathematics. The following points should be emphasized with students when learning math.
· Everyone can do math!
· Emphasize reasoning over memorization
· Encourage multiple strategies and ways of thinking
· Math is not about how quick problems can be done but shortcuts with understanding are great!
· Encourage discussion and exploration
· Math should foster curiosity
· Math should be relevant and realistic
The following video has a similar problem done with 8th graders
The following video has more details on the, how old is the captain problem.
In this game sixteen linear graphs are given. One student selects one of the graphs and the other student asks yes or no questions to determine which graph has been selected. Between games students are shown questions that other students ask. The teacher also is able to view and have a record of all questions asked in each game.
Table 1 has the initial questions that were asked by 4 of the groups. I analyzed the data with an interpretative approach by looking at the ways in which students used mathematical vocabulary in the game.
After playing the game several times, the students discussed what quality questions to ask and
strategies for asking the least amount of questions. Several questions appeared in common in the
groups: “Is your slope positive?” “Is the slope negative?” “Is your line horizontal?” “Is your line
vertical?” “Does your line go through the origin?” Groups also came up with questions of what
quadrants the line crossed through, though not all groups used the term “quadrants.” Through playing
the game and subsequent discussions, students were able to make use of mathematical vocabulary
including slope, positive slope, negative slope, horizontal line, vertical lines, origin, and quadrants.
Stohlmann, M. (2020). Integrated STEM education through game-based learning. In A.I. Sacristán, J.C. Cortés-Zavala, & P.M. Ruiz-Arias (Eds.). Mathematics Education Across Cultures: Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME-NA). (pp. 2238-2242). Mazatlán, Mexico: PME-NA.
What happens when you want something that someone else wants as well? This excellent book reinforces the ideas of sharing and compromises. Children will be intrigued by the story and the questions that are integrated with the pictures. Children will remember that sharing is caring!
A useful sequence of experiences when working with measurement and volume is a three-step experience described in the table below.
For step 1, students can do a comparison activity in which they determine which of two glasses holds more juice. Through this book children can develop informal notions of volume and also that there are different ways of sharing items. The pictures and questions in the book provide opportunities for rich discussion related to sharing and mathematical ideas!
Christian, author, and professor of mathematics education.