Model Crane Design Challenge
The Model Crane design activity comes from the Design
It! After-School Design Curriculum developed by Bernie
Zubrowski and others at Educational Development Centers
(EDC) in Newton, MA. The curriculum is mainly for late-primary-grade
students, but can be used with students of other ages
The movies in this section of DITC show a workshop
that Bernie and others at EDC ran in January 2003, mostly
for after-school educators. This Model Crane task begins
by students talking about what they know about cranes,
and then receiving a box of materials, from which they
will make a motorized crane that lifts as many nails
placed in a plastic cup as possible (MOVIE 1).
Bernie's approach in his design-based curriculum has
students doing an extended exploration phase focused
on the materials, where they attempt to build a device
without plans. Learning from other groups is encouraged.
Each member of a design team is given certain roles
to perform -- this more structured approach to doing
effective group work seems to work well with younger
students. Suggested designs are given to teams later
in the activity. Students incorporate these plans into
their own to make the best designs they can.
DITC's Model Crane section holds the following:
Bernie Zubrowski presents the Model Crane task to
teachers attending his workshop, and details the roles
that teachers-as-designers will play in their groups.
Teachers discuss and build their first crane prototypes.
Teachers report about their homework in to other groups
in a class-wide presentation.
On Crane Designs
In a wrap-up discussion, groups describe their design
decisions and reasoning behind them. Bernie reflects
on pedagogical issues related to teaching with Model
Crane and Design It!