Tempe Academy Science Students Engineer Projects
Sixth-graders in Mr. Martin Tuertscher’s class at Tempe Academy of International Studies are inside and outside of the classroom, flying airplanes, building towers, and creating storyboards. What exactly are they doing? They are learning engineering skills. Engineering is one of the STEM focuses and challenges students with a multitude of concepts to internalize and skills to acquire.
The project was to design, plan, build, maintain, and modify projects such as a bridge, tower, an airplane, or the experiment to answer the question of H2O + Alcohol = ?, by using and applying the scientific method.
Once given materials for their projects, the students worked collaboratively in groups. They were graded individually, according to the IB assessment criteria descriptors. These descriptors include inquiring and designing, and processing and evaluating.
During the project, students wrote up an investigation report, explaining the independent variable (the one they will change) and dependent variable (the one they will measure), their hypothesis, and how they manipulated the independent variable. They also wrote down materials that were used and the step-by-step procedure of the experiment. Finally, they wrote the results and their conclusions.
Student Nicholas Gastelum built a paper airplane by first examining a wooden airplane and its measurements. He said, “First we identify a testable question, for example ‘how far can the plane go?’, then we will do a hypothesis, so mine was if I fold the plane this many times it will fly this much farther.” When asked why he enjoyed his science class he said, “I like that I get to work with different materials and projects, and it’s fun to do.”
The students modified the variables, such as the weight of the plane, so that the paper airplane could fly farther than the wooden one. The wooden plane had clay on it, versus the paper one which was held together by tape. Student Ian Jones said his plan flew 15 feet, and he estimated that some of the planes were flying as far as 36 feet.
After they built the project, students in the group created a storyboard, drawing out how they performed the steps.
Mr. Tuertscher enjoys teaching his students different engineering projects. “The more challenges students undergo, the more they learn,” he said. Students are looking forward to more projects like this as they continue the school year!