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North Carolina State Standards - Shared Competency Goals, Grades 6-8

The Middle Grades chapter of North Carolina's Science Standard Course of Study describes Competency Goals, some of which apply to all grades and others that are grade specific. The first two Competency Goals are the same for all grade 6-8 science students in North Carolina. Competency Goal 1 has to do with scientific inquiry and the Competency Goal 2 deals with technological design. You should also look over the Competency Goals for the specific grade of science that you teach as you plan how to use design activities during your teaching year.

Scientific Inquiry

The Learning By Design curriculum shows how closely connected scientific inquiry can be to design. Compare the LBD Cycle and the Generic Design Cycle to the following description of process skills related to Scientific Inquiry (p. 84) and Technological Design (p. 85):

1.01 Identify and create questions and hypotheses that can be answered through scientific investigations.
Brainstorming can be used to generate research questions just as it can help with generating good design ideas.
1.02 Develop appropriate experimental procedures for given and student questions.
Good experimental procedures are like the constraints of a design task -- boundaries within which any creative idea can be used.
1.03 Apply safety procedures in the laboratory and in field studies.
Safety is a major concern for designers - making connections to school safety can be done.
1.04 Analyze variables in scientific investigations (independent/dependent, use of controls, and describe relationships).
Conducting Fair-Test Experiments is important for designers, although they often do only enough tests or make a reasonable design decisions. Students focus on linking predictor and outcome variables when they create Design Rules-of-Thumb, an important concept that bridges science and technological design.
1.05 Analyze evidence to explain observations, make predictions and link evidence with explanations.
Doing Informed Designing and Fair-Test Experiments involves all of these scientific tasks.
1.06 Use math to gather, organize and present quantitative data (includes measurements, graphs and models).
The use of mathematics is quite similar in scientific and design settings.
1.07 Prepare models and computer simulations
Building models can help in making design decisions without requiring the time and costs associated with building full-scale products and devices.
1.08 Use oral and written language
Keeping a Design Diary, writing a Product History or making charts for presentations all rely upon good oral presentation and composition skills.

Technological Design

2.01 Explore evidence that "technology" has many definitions (artifact, technique, or system)
Using the idea of "technology" to refer to Systems of ideas, events or physical items helps to meet this goal. Having students analyze types of technology as a System addresses this goal as well. Being able to differentiate Product History is also key.
2.02 Use information to identify scientific or human need, or locate resources to test ideas
One type of design task that DITC curricula do not address involves designing instruments for making accurate measurements. For instance, you could ask students to design a way to determine how high a bottle rocket flies, or two ways to determine the ratio of differently sized washers used as weights in the Shopping Bag task (without using a weighing scale).
2.03 Evaluate technological designs for use of science ideas, risks/benefits, constraints and consistent testing
Not all designs have had a scientific understanding to explain how and why they were created and how they work. However, teachers can require their students to do Informed Designing, which includes saying why they made their designs the way they did, use evidence from their Design Diaries, and for you to Assess Explanations that they offer.
2.04 Apply tenets of technological design to make informed consumer decisions (products, processes, systems)
Having students write Consumer Report-styled Product Comparisons can be part of their writing of a Product History or conducting of a Fair-Test Experiment.

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